Friday 13 December 2019

Iranian footballer suspended over 'SpongeBob Squarepants' trousers

Sosha Makani (left) and Spongebob Squarepants CREDIT: AP/UNIVERSAL
Sosha Makani (left) and Spongebob Squarepants CREDIT: AP/UNIVERSAL

Adam Boult

An Iranian footballer has been barred from playing for six months after a photo emerged online showing him wearing some have described as ‘Spongebob SquarePants trousers’.

Goalkeeper Sosha Makani, 29, represented the Iran national team at the 2014 World Cup, and plays for Persepolis in the Iran Pro League. According to the Football Federation’s morality committee he was suspended after repeatedly failing to appear before them when summoned to explain his clothing.

"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 sports website Varzesh3.

The photo of Makani wearing the bright yellow trousers first appeared online on May 6, leading to widespread mockery in the Iranian media, who drew the comparison to cartoon character Spongebob Squarepants.

Earlier this year a spokesman for Iran’s Football Federation, Hojatoleslam Alireza Alipour, told the Tasnim news agency that celebrities "should watch their behaviour,” adding: "These people are, intentionally or unintentionally, a role model for the youth."

It’s unclear whether the latest development is related to Makani’s arrest in January this year, when he was detained at Tehran's Evin prison after photos emerged of him in the company on unveiled women.

The latest ban has prompted mockery on social media. One Twitter user posted a photo of a cleric in a yellow shirt, saying:  "If Makani's banned over yellow pants, then this mullah should be defrocked."

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