World Cup: Soccer Star's Hair Reportedly Too Long for Iranian TV

Carles Puyol - Getty H - 2018
Credit: Pablo Cuadra / Getty

Former Spain defender Carles Puyol's curly locks apparently got him banned from Iranian state TV.

As anyone who has watched World Cup soccer matches over the decades knows, footballers' haircuts have been the source of intense commentary and, largely, ridicule. Indeed, at this year's competition in Russia, Brazil forward Neymar came under the social media spotlight for sporting dyed blond locks likened to a "bowl of pasta."

But rarely has a hairdo seen a footballer actually banned from television, something Spanish soccer star Carles Puyol can now add to his impressive list of achievements. 

The former Spain defender and Barcelona captain — whose trademark long curly hair was for years a commanding presence for his World Cup-winning national team — had traveled to Tehran, having been booked to appear on a special program on Iran's IRTV 3 for the Iran-Spain match June 20.

But he never appeared, with host Adel telling viewers before the match: "You must be aware that Carles Puyol was scheduled to be with us tonight. However, he is in his hotel right now. I did everything I could but it didn't happen. I apologize."

Despite initial reports that Puyol's absence was over his fee, news website Entekhab quoted Puyol in saying that had been told by state broadcaster that he could not appear on air "because if his looks (long hair)."

Although Iran doesn't have an official policy when it comes to the length of male hair, the Iranian Football Federation's code of conduct states that players shouldn't have haircuts that help "spread foreign culture," while state TV has strict rules about broadcasting anything thought of by the conservative establishment as unconvential or un-Islamic. 

The news prompted immediate criticism and ridicule on social media, with one Twitter user sarcastically saying, "Mr Puyol, this is Islamic Iran! We won't let you put Islam in danger with your wild hair!"

The IRIB, via its conservative daily newspaper Jam-e Jam, denied the report that Puyol has been barred because of his hair, with its deputy chief, Morteza Mirbaqeri, on June 23 claiming that the story was a "rumor" spread by the BBC.