Iran’s state TV channel reportedly cut away from their Premier League broadcast of Tottenham 1-3 Manchester United more than 100 times to avoid showing assistant referee Sian Massey-Ellis.
Per The Daily Mail, Iranian football fans were shown a landscape shot of the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium in an attempt to prevent Massey-Ellis from appearing on screen.
Why? An Iranian civil rights group claims the Islamic Republic state broadcaster didn’t want viewers to see the bare legs of Massey-Ellis, who was wearing shorts.
Despite the fact Massey-Ellis was simply doing her job, live images of the hugely respected 35-year-old official were not broadcast due to the state’s strict religious laws.
My Stealthy Freedom, a group that campaigns against discriminatory gender laws in Iran, wrote: “The television censors were rattled by the presence of a female referee in shorts.
“Their solution was to cut away from the action to views of London’s backstreets, which made a mockery of the game.
“At the end of the game, one of the commentators joked that he hoped the viewers enjoyed the geographic show.
“Censorship is in the DNA of the Islamic Republic of Iran. We should not normalise this practice. This is not our culture. This is the ideology of a repressive regime.”
This is what the rest of the world saw…
And this is what Iranian football fans saw…
(Credit: My Stealthy Freedom)
This isn’t the first time that football coverage has been censored in Iran.
AS Roma’s badge was reportedly blurred out back in April 2018 during coverage of a Champions League tie against Barcelona.
One year later, it was reported that Bayern Munich’s Bundesliga game against Augsburg wasn’t shown on Iranian TV because the referee for the match, Bibiana Steinhaus, was a woman.
German official Steinhaus was in the news again this week after marrying former English referee Howard Webb.