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Hijab Initially Approved on Football Pitch

Published: 02/04/2012 12:18:54 AM GMT
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BAGSHOT, England - The world football's lawmakers approved in principle on Saturday, March 3, to overturn a ban on the wearing of Islamic headscarf (hi (more)

BAGSHOT, England - The world football's lawmakers approved in principle on Saturday, March 3, to overturn a ban on the wearing of Islamic headscarf (hijab) on pitch."I am deeply grateful that the proposal to allow women to wear the headscarf was unanimously endorsed by all members of IFAB," FIFA executive committee member Prince Ali Bin Al Hussein of Jordan said, Reuters reported.

The initial approval was given by the eight-man International Football Association Board (IFAB) following a presentation by Prince Ali.

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Hijab: What's It All About?

At the presentation, Prince Ali offered the case for allowing players to use a Dutch-designed Velcro hijab which comes apart if pulled.

He said that the wearing of the Dutch-designed outfil will remove safety concerns of wearing hijab on pitch.

A final decision, however, was delayed until July when the proposal will be given further testing by IFAB's members.

The initial approval won plaudits for giving Muslim players an opportunity to participate in sports.

"I welcome their decision for an accelerated process to further test the current design,” Prince Ali said.“I'm confident that once the final ratification at the special meeting of IFAB takes place, we will see many delighted and happy players returning to the field and playing the game they love."

The problems of Muslim players started when the football governing body's FIFA banned the wearing of hijab in 2007.In April 2010, FIFA announced that it was planning to ban the Muslim headscarf and other religious outings during the 2012 London Olympics.

Last year, Iran women's football  team were prevented from playing their 2012 Olympic second round qualifying match against Jordan because they refused to remove their hijabs before kickoff.

Iran, who had topped their group in the first round of Olympic qualifiers after going undefeated, were given 3-0 defeats as a penalty which abruptly ended their dreams of qualifying for the London Olympics.

The United Nations on Thursday, March 1, called on the FIFA to reverse its ban on the wearing of the Muslim headscarf on pitch. Muslim Hopes

Muslim players hope that the lifting of hijab ban would encourage more Muslim women to join sport competitions.“Not a lot of Muslim women are involved in competitive sports, I guess maybe because it's difficult and there's a stigma involved with hijab,” Sarah Hassanein, a 19-year-old football-playing, hijab-wearing York University human rights and equity student, told Toronto Star.

“But I think everyone should take it as an opportunity to get out there to be more active, politically, in sports, in volunteering, in any way you can.”

For Hassanein, even if the FIFA failed to lift the ban, the debate will provoke positive international discussions.

Physical Olympic sports such as rugby and taekwondo allow Muslim women to wear the headscarf in competition.

Sertac Sehlikoglu Karakas, a PhD candidate in social anthropology at the University of Cambridge, hopes that the ban will be finally lifted in June.“I believe that it is a terrible mistake to ask a person to choose between their faith and sports, especially when there are several alternative ways to accommodate both.”

Islam sees hijab as an obligatory code of dress, not a religious symbol displaying one's affiliations.

Reproduced with permission from