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The hijab has often split opinion in the world of sports, however, the Russian women’s mini-football (futsal) team have fully embraced this traditional Muslim attire by wearing it during a friendly game with Iran, where it is compulsory for women.
The Russian team could have refused to play against their Iranian counterparts in hijabs, it would not have been a problem, the Russian futsal team's coach Yevgeniy Kuzmin stressed.
Last week, the Russian team had two friendly matches against the Iranian players in Tehran, during the second one the Russian girls were wearing hijabs. The Russian team’s first game ended in a draw of 3-3, but they enjoyed a victory in their second outing, winning by a score of 5-3.
"The Iranians are our traditional sparring partners and we usually hold friendly games with them in October-November," Kuzmin explained.
"The Iranians asked if our girls could wear hijabs during the game in order to promote women's mini-football in the country. We have great relations with the Iranian team, so we decided to play along. They provided us with the outfits."
"We could have said 'no' and it would have been alright, the coach noted. Our players had no problem with wearing hijabs during the game, it was interesting for them to experience what Iranian women were feeling when playing in such garb all the time. It is obvious that it was unusual for the Russian girls however, that fact did not have any impact on the game. Some of the girls even decided to take the hijabs with them back home."