Iranian star footballer Ali Daei and his daughter Noura

Iran Hardliners Call For Hijab Prosecution Of Football Star's Daughter

Monday, 02/12/2024
Maryam Sinaiee

A British Iranian journalist and political analyst and a regular contributor to Iran International

Iran’s hardliners are incensed by the failure to prosecute Ali Daei's teenage daughter for appearing without a hijab on an online football show where she surprised her father for his birthday.

In a scathing critique published on Friday, Raja News, a website associated with the ultra-hardliner Paydari Party, expressed public outrage, questioning whether ordinary individuals would have faced legal repercussions for similar actions. The absence of judicial action against Noura Daei, the footballer's teenage daughter, was labeled as "judicial discrimination" by Raja News, warning of its potentially detrimental impact on public morality and religious devotion—a sentiment echoed by hardliners across social media platforms.

The incident occurred during an episode of the internet show "Football 360," hosted by Adel Ferdosipour, where the thirteen-year-old daughter of the former German Bundesliga striker made a surprise appearance to celebrate her father's birthday.

Ali Daei’s daughter Noura entering the studio to surprise her father.

Noura Daei entered the studio dressed simply in a black hoodie, sweatpants and trainers, but despite Iran's mandatory hijab rules, which requires girls to cover their hair from the age of nine, her dark hair was cascading on her shoulders.

Noura Daei hugged her father and when she became emotional, Ferdosipour, his father’s old friend, caressed her head for a second. This, too, has angered hardliners who have also criticized him for touching a girl he is not related to by blood, and Daei, for allowing him to do so.

“Last week, scorning the law and Sharia, Adel Ferdosipour sat Ali Daei’s daughter with uncovered head in his program. None of the authorities dared to prosecute them for this. Is the prosecutor, as the public’s representative, in winter hibernation?” a hardliner tweeted. 

Daei and Ferdosipour have made no comments about hardliners’ criticisms and their demand for the punishment of Daei’s young daughter for not wearing the hijab.

Many social media users, however, have defended them and pointed out that the same hardliners have been silent about women not wearing the hijab in the state-sponsored February 11 anniversary of the Islamic Revolution march or the recent visit of a pro-Palestinian American adult movie actress Whitney Wright to Iran.

A woman with uncovered hair at state-sponsored anniversary of Revolution march.

“They see the hair of Ali Daei’s 13-year-old daughter and protest that it is defiance of hijab. But they even encourage it when a 40-year-old woman shows her hair [in the march] because it is propaganda for the regime,” one of the tweets on the subject said.

Daei, a former soccer star and captain of the national team, has garnered even greater popularity among Iranians for his vocal support of anti-government protesters. With 12.4 million followers on his Instagram page, he has refrained from commenting on the hardliners' attacks against him and their demand for his daughter's punishment.

Both Daei and Ferdosipour, a renowned soccer commentator, are considered "undesirables" by the regime due to their outspoken support for Iranian protesters on numerous occasions, resulting in their exclusion from official events and programs in recent years.

“What have you done to this country? My daughter is asking me what has happened [to Mahsa Amini]. What can I tell her? For what sin [was she killed?” he wrote on Instagram on September 16, 2022, when the 22-year-old Mahsa Amini died in hospital after a head injury she sustained in the custody of morality police.

Daei's philanthropic efforts faced government interference in 2017 when he and fellow footballer Karim Bagheri attempted to raise funds to aid the earthquake-stricken people of Kermanshah. Authorities froze their accounts, obstructing their charity drives.

The pressure on Daei and his family escalated further after his Instagram post during the Woman, Life, Freedom protest. In December 2022, security forces diverted a Dubai-bound Mahan Airlines plane to Kish Island to prevent Daei's wife and daughter from leaving the country. Furthermore, in early December of the same year, security forces sealed two of his businesses, a jewelry shop, and his restaurant, following his participation in a day of strikes called by protesters.

Ferdosipour, known for his immensely popular show "90" aired weekly on the state broadcaster IRIB, was banned from all IRIB sports programs in 2018. With an audience sometimes surpassing 30 million, he was once listed among Iran's top 20 most influential figures by Newsweek magazine in 2009.

In early 2022, Ferdosipour launched "Football 360," a weekly YouTube talk show also available as a podcast and mobile application. With over a million installations by Iranians on their phones, the show has gained significant traction.

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