Eyes off the thighs: Indian cleric bans women from 'watching arousing footballers'
Mufti Athar Kasmi issued a religious decree last week, saying that watching men "playing with bare knees" violates the tenets of Islam and is forbidden for women.
Kasmi, a cleric at Darul Uloom, Asia's largest Sunni Muslim seminary in the northern town of Deoband, also lashed out at men who allow their wives to watch the game.
"Do you have no shame? Do you not fear God? You let her watch these kinds of things," he railed in his sermon on Friday.
Kasmi's decree comes after Saudi Arabia finally allowed women to watch football matches in stadiums earlier this month in a series of reforms introduced.
"Why do women need to watch these football matches? What they will gain by looking at footballer's thighs? Their attention will be on that only and they will even miss the scores," Kasmi said.
Saudi Arabia's stadiums opened their doors to female football fans for the first time January 12 after a historic ruling late last year allowed women into stadiums. The loosening on restrictions on women in Saudi public life has been spearheaded by the Kingdom's young crown prince and de facto leader Mohammed bin Salman.
Following Kasmi's comments, a video has resurfaced on social media for a high profile Saudi cleric, Saad al-Hijri echoing the sentiment that women should not watch football because they will get distracted by a players' thighs. "Have you no shame for allowing your wives to watch other men in this state?" Hijri shamed husbands for 'allowing' their wives to watch the sport.
Last September, Hijri was suspended from preaching after saying women should not be allowed to drive because they have a "quarter of a brain" – days before the Kingdom announced it will end the ban on women driving.
"It is not their fault, but women lack intellect do they not?" Hijri asked an audience at a lecture on "the evils of allowing women to drive".
"Would you give a man with half an intellect a driving licence? So how would you give one to a woman when she has half an intellect," he said.