Iranian footballers have been warned that they could be punished if they take “selfie” pictures with female fans at the Asian Cup, which is being held in Australia. Ali Akbar Mohamedzade, the head of Iranian Football Federation's moral committee, said that the players were at risk of being used as a “political tool” if they clicked such photographs.
Mohamedzade issued the warning last week after photos of footballers with female fans circulated on social media, Agence France-Presse (AFP) reported. However, the official did not give details about the punishment.
Women are not allowed to attend men’s sports events in Iran, but they have reportedly gathered to see Iran’s games at the Asian Cup, which started on Jan. 9. About 70,000 Iranians currently reside in Australia and thousands are attending the tournament to cheer their country, which has won three times before.
"National team players should be aware that they won't be used as a political tool so that those who take pictures with them don't use these photos against the players," Mohamedzade said, according to AFP, which cited a local newspaper. "So according to this they should not take photos with everyone. If the players don't respect this, we will be obliged to take action," he said, adding: "We are monitoring what is happening in Australia, we haven't sent any representative to Australia."
Images that show "inappropriately dressed" women have reportedly been censored in the Iraqi media coverage of the tournament.
"In some of the selfies that our players have taken with the fans we can see they appear next to people whose appearance we regard as being against our moral principles," Mohamedzade said, according to The Telegraph, adding: "I have therefore had to contact the national coach and questioned him about this issue and he has explicitly denied having agreed to posting of such selfies on social networks."
Portuguese Carlos Queiroz, coach for the Iranian football team, has also been questioned regarding the behavior of his team, The Telegraph reported. Queiroz reportedly did not comment on the issue.