Sunday, October 10, 2004

Bangladesh: Women soccer tourney on despite Mullah Oppositions

[ Bangladesh's first women's soccer tournament has faced protests from Islamic groups since it began Monday in Dhaka. But organizers promised to continue the games, which have attracted moderate crowds at a new downtown stadium in the capital."We had two games today," Kamrun Nahar, secretary the Bangladesh Football Federation's women's soccer committee, told The Associated Press. Yesterday, dozens of Islamic protesters rallied outside the National Sports Council, a state authority that oversees sports, asking the government to suspend the event. Riot police stood watch to prevent the protesters from raiding the council building or marching toward the venue.]


Bangladesh's first women's soccer tourney draws fire
DHAKA, Bangladesh

Women's soccer has tournament despite indecency protests

A women's soccer tournament resumed yesterday despite protests from Islamic groups to stop the "indecent" tournament.

"We had two games today," Kamrun Nahar, secretary the Bangladesh Football Federation's women's soccer committee, told The Associated Press.

Bangladesh's first women's soccer tournament has faced protests from Islamic groups since it began Monday in Dhaka. But organizers promised to continue the games, which have attracted moderate crowds at a new downtown stadium in the capital.

Yesterday, dozens of Islamic protesters rallied outside the National Sports Council, a state authority that oversees sports, asking the government to suspend the event. Riot police stood watch to prevent the protesters from raiding the council building or marching toward the venue.

"All kinds of un-Islamic women's sports must be stopped immediately," Mohammad Fazlul Karim, chief of the Islamic Constitution Movement, told the rally.

On Tuesday, protesters from Islamic Unity Movement, a little-known group, rallied outside Dhaka's main mosque demanding a halt to the tournament, terming it "indecent and against Islamic norms".

The 10-day tournament features eight regional teams. Games were postponed Wednesday and Friday because of a wet field after torrential overnight rains. Two games were played on a soggy field Thursday.

Other women's sports events have been threatened. A soccer exhibition between women's teams from India and Bangladesh was canceled this year in Netrakona after protests by Muslim clerics, but a similar game went ahead in Dhaka.

Bangladesh's first women's wrestling competition was postponed in July after threats from Muslim clerics.

Soccer is the most popular game in Bangladesh, closely followed by cricket. But while female participation is common in sports such as tennis, track and field, swimming, volleyball, badminton, shooting and judo, Bangladesh is yet to have a national women's soccer team.

Soccer's international governing bodies are encouraging women's soccer in Bangladesh.


THE ASSOCIATED PRESS 10/10/2004