Morality committee of Iran football fed. bans Persian Gulf Pro League goalkeeper for 6 months over SpongeBob pantspic.twitter.com/rGzydeHXfs— Sobhan Hassanvand (@Hassanvand) June 8, 2016
Who knew a pair of flamboyant, cartoon-character inspired pants could land you in so much trouble?
A professional football player in Iran sparked backlash earlier this month after pictures of him dressed in a pair of bright yellow pants, described as “SpongeBob pants,” emerged online.
The images weren’t indecent or offensive by any means, but for some inane reason, it irked the national authorities to such an extent that they banned Sosha Makani, a goalkeeper with Tehran’s well-established Persepolis club, from playing domestic matches for six months.
“We made the decision based on the clothing of this national football team player and the impact it can have on society,” an unnamed official told the local media, adding that Makani had refused to face questioning on the matter despite being summoned.
The morality committee of the Iranian Football Federation, which oversees the code of conduct, reportedly based its decision to suspend the 29-year-old player on his “inappropriate behavior” and “unconventional attire.”
Interestingly, the only offense they cited was his bright yellow pants.
Western cartoon characters, particularly Mickey Mouse and Barbie, are not popular with the country’s government. In fact, authorities in Iran have even targeted stores selling such toys in the past.
Morality officials claim that country’s sports and cultural figures serve as a role model for younger generation and thus need to be kept in check, but activists believe it to be a violation of privacy. After all, everyone should have a right to dress the way they want, right?
Just recently, Iran arrested a number of female fashion models in a social media crackdown. The women were detained over posing for Instagram without the mandatory hijab covering their heads.
However, Makani, who played for Iran’s national football team at the 2014 World Cup, cannot only appeal his case, but can also play in international matches.
This is not the first time the goalie has found himself at odds with the authorities. He was temporarily jailed in January over social media images featuring him with women who did not cover their heads.