Iranian MP forced to justify Croatian president’s World Cup hugs ‘as non-sexual’
An Iranian member of parliament was forced to justify to local media outlets that the recent televised coverage of the World Cup which showed Croatia’s president hugging every player from both teams as non-sexual after reactions from hardliners.
Iranian state broadcaster IRIB and other channels usually practices strict censorship as they employ “moral guardians” who immediately interrupt live programs when they believe a woman is wearing clothing deemed inappropriate.
Several Iranian channels went into panic mode when they were airing the World Cup final live between France and Croatia where the latter’s President President Kolinda Grabar Kitarovic won many admirers for her own performance when she smiled and hugged every player from both teams.
Ali Motahari, an Iranian conservative politician who represents Tehran, Rey, Shemiranat and Eslamshahr, seems to have somewhat come to Kitarovic’s defense when he said that her embrace “was maternal, not sexual”.
Iran’s semiofficial news agency ISNA has reported the comments of the website Aine News on the closing ceremony which included the ceremony where Kitarovic stood alongside French President Emmanuel Macron and Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Aine News described the night as quite controversial for Iranian television.
“After France won the World Cup, the awards ceremony began and so the presidents of Russia, France and Croatia as well as FIFA officials stood side by side. Everything was going smoothly and so no one felt any problem in the live broadcasting of the ceremony on Iran’s third channel, yet the sudden actions of the Croatian President terrified the executives of the Iranian channel,” a translation of an Aine News report read.
“Indeed, the problems started once the President of Croatia hugged the players of her national team and that for an extended period of time. This forced the Iranian channel to stop the live broadcast and to re-broadcast some clips from the match between France and Croatia… live broadcasting resumed normally after the hugging ended,” it added.
Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani was unable to attend the World Cup ceremony despite an invitation from Putin, with some observers saying it was his caution to avoid embarrassment from shaking hands with women or watching the opening ceremony which involved singers and dancers.