No Shave, No Soccer: Bearded Uzbek Fans Report Being Barred From Stadium

Several Uzbek soccer fans say they were barred from entering a stadium while wearing beards, in what could be a sign of a crackdown on what the government sees as displays of potential Islamic radicalism.

One fan in the central city of Bukhara told RFE/RL’s Uzbek Service that he and others were about to enter a stadium to watch a May 29 friendly between Bukhara and Navbahor when plainclothes police stopped those with beards.

“There were thousands of people lining up to enter the stadium when a man in civilian clothes approached me and said ‘Go and remove your beard and then you can enter,'” said the fan, who did not want to be identified for fear of reprisals.