First Christian football captain in Iran as Rouhani puts focus on minorities -Various

As in many parts of the Middle East, football (soccer in North America) is often a barometer of the larger political environment in Iran. Since Rouhani’s election, the government has been fighting with conservatives over gender and social issues and religious tolerance. That battle is increasingly being fought on the football pitch. In the past, conservatives have complained about the male player’s haircuts, uniforms and use of make-up. They have also banned women from attending some games. Recently, conservatives have tried to ban “Satanic”, or “homosexual” haircuts and reportedly women football players have been forced to undergo gender checks. The Rouhani government is fighting back however. The ban on women attending soccer games has reportedly been lifted and now a Christian captain, and one with a long “Samurai” haircut no less.