Iranian goalkeeper faces 6 months' suspension for wearing 'SpongeBob trousers'

Iranian goalkeeper Sosha Makani donning an outfit that appeared to resemble SpongeBob SquarePants.
Iranian goalkeeper Sosha Makani donning an outfit that appeared to resemble SpongeBob SquarePants.PHOTO: TWITTER/LISA DAFTARI
Iranian Sosha Makani on the bench before an international friendly football match between Guinea and Iran in Teheran, on March 6, 2014.
Iranian Sosha Makani on the bench before an international friendly football match between Guinea and Iran in Teheran, on March 6, 2014.PHOTO: AFP

A pair of trousers that looked like the American cartoon character Spongebob Squarepants seems to have led to the suspension of Iranian goalkeeper Sosha Makani.

Makani, 29, has been suspended from domestic competition for six months after a photo of him wearing an outfit that appeared to resemble SpongeBob SquarePants was posted online on May 6.

The photo was taken before a game for club side Persepolis and it showed the professional footballer wearing a blue shirt and yellow trousers with black dots.

The Iranian government frowns upon the spread of popular Western culture in the country, cracking down on the sale of things such as merchandise of popular American cartoon characters like The Simpsons.

In January 2012, police shut down local toy shops for selling Barbie dolls. A month later, Simpsons cartoon dolls were banned by a local government-affiliated agency.

Makani, who played for Iran's national team at the 2014 World Cup, caught the attention of local media stations and Iranian authorities for his bright and colourful outfit.

Iranian sports news agency Varzesh3 carried the headline: "Sosha suspended for six months because of yellow trousers."

The Iranian Students News Agency (Isna) claimed that the penalty was for "inappropriate conduct", as reported by BBC News.

The Iranian football federation's morality committee cited Makani's clothing as one of the reasons for the punishment.

The goalie has already been in trouble before over an incident which occurred earlier in January.

He was arrested and temporarily jailed in Teheran's Evin prison after photos of him together with several women not wearing the Islamic hijab were posted on social media.

Iran has strict clothing laws that include the compulsory wearing of headscarves for women.

The conservative Islamic country also has laws restricting the mingling of men and women who are not related.

In May 2016, popular Iranian actress Taraneh Alidoosti, 32, faced an onslaught of criticism from hardliners angry over a photo taken during a press conference in Teheranwhich showed her sporting on her left arm a feminist tattoo of a raised fist.

In the same month, several Iranian models were arrested for posting photos of themselves without headscarves on Instagram, according to The Telegraph.

These arrests were part of a sting operation codenamed "Spider 2", which was targeted at people in the fashion industry.