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Iranian Goalie Faces Court After Hugging Female Fan

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Hossein Hosseini, the captain of Iran’s Esteghlal FC and renowned goalkeeper, has been summoned to the Culture and Media Court.

The action follows a police complaint regarding an incident during a football match on April 12 when a female fan tried to evade arrest for not wearing the hijab by hugging Hosseini.

The fan, who had run onto the field to escape security personnel, was embraced by Hosseini in a protective gesture. The act, however, escalated into a confrontation with special unit forces.

Following the incident, the Esteghlal FC captain was slapped with a hefty fine of three billion Iranian rials (approximately $4,500) and a one-game suspension. 

Hosseini, expressing his resolve, stated that he would pay the fine, claiming that “three billion rials for the sake of a female fan of Esteghlal is worth it.”

The situation intensified when the IRGC-affiliated Fars News Agency launched a campaign demanding further sanctions against Hosseini for his comments, which led to an additional fine of 300 million rials.

The punitive measures have sparked a backlash, with Mansour Rashidi, former national team goalkeeper, criticizing the punishment, especially when compared to other public figures.

“Why was nothing said and no fine imposed when that guy (Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the former president) hugged the mother of the Venezuelan president?” Rashidi continued.

Legal experts have also weighed in, suggesting that the disciplinary actions against Hosseini may contravene existing regulations, as he did not violate any laws aside from the Islamic rule regarding physical contact between opposite sex.

The case has also reignited discussions about women’s access to stadiums in Iran, a contentious issue that has drawn international attention and criticism.

Despite FIFA’s ongoing efforts to encourage the inclusion of women in football stadiums, governmental resistance citing “inadequate infrastructure” continues to limit their presence, leading only to sporadic admissions under strict controls.