You aren’t seeing things – this picture does indeed show a male coach for Thailand’s women’s kabaddi team wearing a hijab. The reason why explains a lot about the mindset of Iran, and radical Islam, in today’s world.
Iran is hosting the women’s Asian championship tournament for the sport of kabaddi, which means the visiting teams from surrounding nations must adhere to Iran’s traditions. One cultural demand, based in an oppressive tradition of Islam, likely didn’t sit well with most coaches, however.
Muslim tradition says men are not allowed to enter sports arenas used by women. We’re not exactly sure why Islam has set practices for participating in professional sports.
In more progressive Islamic countries, such traditions are ignored, but Iran is about as fundamental as they come, so male coaches had to make concessions. That meant the coach for Thailand, who is male, was forced to wear a hijab to enter the arena where the country’s women’s team was playing.
Iranian authorities forced the male coach of the Thai female kabaddi team to wear hijab in order to be able to accompany his team into the women’s arena, during the Asian Kabaddi Championship , according to media reports.
Radio Farda said that the decision was taken because in Iran men are not allowed to enter sports arenas used by women.
Somprach Phonchoo, the Thai coach, in an interview with Radio Farda confirmed that he was requested to put on the headscarf if he was to be granted entry.
Mohammad Reza Maghasoudlou, the head of Iran’s Kabaddi federation, on his part came up with a funny explanation. He told ISNA News Agency, “A photographer had given the scarf to the Thai man so he could enter the arena and take pictures.”
“It was a mischievous act and the intention was to cast aspersion on the conduct of the games,” Maghasoudlou added.