Did referees really stop a football match to get rid of a player's "anti-Islamic" haircut?
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A video circulating online shows football referees stopping a match to trim the hair of one of the players. Both social media users and traditional media sites shared the video, claiming that it showed the first application of a recent decision by the Saudi Arabian Minister of Youth and Sports to ban players from sporting “inappropriate” and “un-Islamic” hairdos. But, as we found out, that isn’t quite right.
This footage shows referees halting a football match between two Saudi clubs, al-Shabab FC and Najran SC, because of the haircut sported by the al-Shabab goalie. The video shows several club staff members cutting the player’s hair on the game sidelines. Those who published this as being a recent event include the Russian media Russia Today, the British newspaper Daily Telegraph, the Egyptian site Egynews, and the pan-Arabic Elaph.com.
However, when we searched on YouTube, we quickly found out that this video was originally published in August 2012. In that year, the Saudi football federation tried to ban haircuts considered too “provocative”, but at that time the plan was pushed to the sidelines.
The Saudi minister of Youth and Sports recently attempted to resurrect this ban. On April 6, he asked the Saudi Football Federation and the Committee of Referees to start applying this decision with “rigor”. However, to our knowledge, there hasn’t been a single player yet sanctioned under this ban, and the video that has been circulating has nothing to do with the minister’s recent pronouncement.
Elpah.com also shared the 2012 video.