Saudi Arabian authorities forced non-Muslim player to have pitch-side haircut

A footballer in Saudi Arabia was forced to have an impromptu haircut at the side of the pitch due to the country’s crackdown on “unIslamic hairstyles” in the sport.

Footage shows Waleed Abdullah, a goalkeeper for Al Shabaab and Saudi Arabia’s national team, having a small mohawk chopped off by the referee before being allowed onto the pitch, Agence France Presse reports.

It follows an announcement by Saudi Arabia’s youth federation asking football clubs and the Olympic committee to  “ban the qazaa phenomenon”, using the Arabic term for eccentric hairstyles worn by athletes, according to Arabic sports website Arriyadiyah.

One commentator, writing in the Saudi newspaper Al-Jazirah on Friday, urged the football federation to “impose sanctions” on players whose “bizarre haircuts are imitated by their fans in schools”.

Saudi Arabia practices a strict form of Sunni Islam – known as Wahhabism –  where everyday life is strictly controlled by the kingdom’s theocratic rulers.

After several years of international pressure, Saudi Arabia only allowed women to compete in the Olympic Games in 2012.

 

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