Iran: Female fans 'cut from live TV sport'

Iranian TV has taken to cutting images of female fans wearing "un-Islamic" dress from live sports coverage.

Shakira, right, applauds at the Confederations Cup match between Italy and Spain Shakira: Visible only in slow-motion to Iranians

Recent sporting successes - qualifying for football's World Cup and beating Serbia and Italy at volleyball - caused a dilemma for broadcasters, which are banned from showing women in "indecent dress" such as short-sleeved T-shirts and without headscarves. They've tried broadcasting "live" matches with a short delay, letting them cut to replays when cameras pick up problematic shots. But last week, Channel 3's coverage of Spain's football match against Italy caught Colombian singer Shakira cheering - shoulders bare - from the stands.

Days later, the same channel aired footage of female supporters as Italy hosted Iran at volleyball. It prompted Tehran MP Ali Motahhari to caution broadcasting authority head Ezzatollah Zarghami about the consequences of mishandling such live events. Zarghami - with one eye on Friday's volleyball match in the heat of Cuba - suggested the only option was to not screen it at all, according to reformist paper Sharq. He then claimed he'd "send a group to hand out tracksuits to ladies who do not adhere to the decent dress code".

Zarghami was joking. But he pointed out that viewers - already irritated by the censorship - would turn to foreign satellite channels if matches weren't screened. Mehr news agency reports that he questioned how Motahhari noticed Shakira, given she was only visible in slow-motion. Satirist Ebrahim Nabavi wrote on Roozonline website: "How could you notice an image that was broadcast for only four seconds in the middle of an exciting match...? Please let us know so that, from now on, we can also watch women in the stadium instead of the match."

Iranian football fans - brandishing national flags - at a Tehran street celebration Women could celebrate World Cup qualification in the street - not in the stadium

Women are banned from stadiums in Iran and many were dismayed at being turned away from a homecoming celebration for the nation's footballers, following their World Cup qualification last month. State-owned news channel IRINN, whose images showed both packed and empty sections of Tehran's 100,000-capacity Azadi Stadium, estimated 20,000 people had shown up. Vahid Online tweeted to 17,080 followers that fans were chanting: "The stadium is great. Women are missed."

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