Thursday, September 22, 2005

Pakistani women footballers to avoid tempting

Pakistani women will reportedly play their first ever national soccer championship under strictly segregated conditions to avoid violence from conservative Muslim and social factions. Islamists attacked runners in a mixed marathon race in Gujranwala in April and it took two attempts and government intervention before another race was held in Lahore a couple of months later.

No unaccompanied men will be allowed into the stadium in Islamabad to watch the six-day competition between eight teams, though one male coach per team will be permitted, and the women will be required to play in baggy trousers and long sleeved shirts.

"It is a big step forward for Pakistani women's sports but we obviously have to adhere to our religious, cultural and social norms," Mujahiddullah Khan Tareen of the Pakistan Football Federation said, as quoted by Reuters. "We also feel women need to be given a chance to play in the world's most popular sport," he said.

It is a mandatory condition of football's governing body, FIFA, to promote women's football. The PFF receives an annual grant of $250,000 from FIFA and has to spend at least 10 percent of it on women's football.

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