More than 40 footballers in the United Arab Emirates, including the former Sunderland striker Asamoah Gyan, have reportedly been told they have "unethical haircuts". The players risk suspension or a fine unless they alter their hairstyle.
The bizarre news comes from the Middle Eastern football website Ahdaaf, which has revealed the new rules in a series of tweets. It initially claimed that al-Ain midfielder Omar Abdulrahman, who was once linked to Arsenal and Barcelona and boasts an impressive afro, had fallen foul of the guidelines, but later backtracked.
Ahdaaf says that dozens of other players are in trouble, including Suhail al-Mansoori, who boasts an almost identical barnet to Abdulrahman, prompting even more confusion over the guidelines.
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The ban appears to be related to religion. "Some Islamic teachings ban 'Qaza' hairstyles, where only part of the head is shaved," reports the BBC. "Individual match referees judge whether players' haircuts are appropriate. Some match officials in the United Arab Emirates enforce the rules because they are concerned about children copying the styles."
Gyan, who is on loan at Dubai-based side Al Ahli from Shanghai SIPG in China, currently sports his trademark mohawk style. He has been warned in a letter to change his haircut, says the BBC.
Fans in the West are bemused by the news.
"It certainly doesn't look good for the likes of Marouane Fellaini, Paul Pogba and David Luiz, if they have any aspirations of plying their trade in the UAE," says the website Joe.co.uk.
It's not the first time that haircuts have caused controversy in the Gulf region, says the BBC. "In 2012, Saudi Arabia goalkeeper Waleed Abdullah was told to cut his 'un-Islamic' hair by the referee before playing for his club side Al Shabab."
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