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Iranian Goalie Faces Disciplinary Action After Hugging Female Fan

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Hossein Hosseini, goalkeeper for Iran’s Esteghlal football club, has been called to the Football Federation’s disciplinary committee to explain an incident in which he embraced a female fan.

The event occurred on April 12, in a match between Esteghlal FC and Aluminium Arak when a young female fan evaded security by running onto the field and embracing Hosseini as a means of escaping guards chasing her for not wearing the compulsory hijab. The act led to a scuffle involving Hosseini and special unit forces.

The disciplinary committee responded to the incident by suspending Hosseini for one session and imposing a fine of three billion rials (approximately $4,500).. It was deemed “unprofessional and beyond the legal duties of a player”.

In a public reaction, the goalkeeper’s captain made a sarcastic remark about the committee’s decision, stating, “I will pay the fine, for the sake of that lady.” Further complicating matters, IRNA, Iran’s official news agency, reported that Hosseini might face additional penalties due to his recent public comments, suggesting that his previous suspension could now be enforced.

Legal analysts have noted that the disciplinary committee’s actions appear to be in violation of existing regulations as Hosseini did not breach any specific laws during the incident, other than breaking Islamic rules about opposite sexes being in physical contact. The case has brought to light the broader issue of women’s access to stadiums in Iran—a topic of significant debate and international concern for several years.

Since five years ago, FIFA has been urging Iran to allow women into football stadiums. However, the Football Federation and other governmental bodies have resisted the changes, often citing “inadequate infrastructure” as a reason for non-compliance. Despite occasional allowances for controlled entry of women into stadiums, the ongoing restrictions predominantly limit their presence, leading to sporadic participation in matches.