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Russia's Women's Soccer Team Wore Hijabs While Playing Iran And Started A Controversy

The team said they did it to "honor local tradition."

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This week, the Russian national women's futsal team traveled to Tehran to play against the Iran's national team in friendly matches.

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Futsal is a type of soccer that’s played with five players on either side on a smaller — and usually indoor — pitch.

The decision to wear hijabs was controversial for a lot of people. Many comments on both Russian social media site VK and Facebook were critical of the team’s decision to wear the veils.

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"They could have played against a tribe of cannibals using a skull instead of a ball, and then the victors would have eaten the losers, in respect for the culture. Savages have their own rules and customs, why should our women follow them?!!!"

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"This looks like political prostitution to me. When are we going to start respecting ourselves? For the next game, are we going to make the Muslim girls and our team play on Kremlin grounds in kokoshniks (traditional Russian headdresses)?"

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"These girls don't know their own customs, yet somehow they respect that of others. How embarrassing."

But others jumped to the team's defense.

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"The comments below seem to be full of ignorant gossips. This was simply out of respect for our opponent and their traditions. Well done, girls!'"

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"Everyone seems to have forgotten that in Russia, women would cover their heads with scarves. If it's a traditional Russian scarf that's good, but if it's a hijab (if only for the sake of respecting the customs of another country, in which they are guests), which looks exactly the same, that's somehow bad?"

vk.com

"Why are you all so upset? It was said that the hijab was only worn in the second game, not in both. It looks more like an act of goodwill, done out of respect for the local traditions, and was appreciated by the home crowd."

A spokesperson for the Russian Futsal Association told Metro News Russia that the two countries enjoy a "very close working relationship".

They added that Iran is very important to Russia as a sparring partner as it is the leading futsal nation in Asia.

Kassy Cho is a reporter with BuzzFeed News and is based in London.

Contact Kassy Cho at kassy.cho@buzzfeed.com.

Natalya Lobanova is junior staff writer at BuzzFeed and is based in London.

Contact Natalya Lobanova at natalya.lobanova@buzzfeed.com.

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