CAIRO - An initial approval by the world football's lawmakers to lift a ban on the wearing of the Muslim headscarf (hijab) on pitch is drawing praise from the United Nations, the World Football Insider reported.
"I don't feel well when we forbid women who wear this headscarf because of their culture, when they play football," UN special adviser on sport Wilfried Lemke told the World Olympics Sport Convention on Tuesday, April 17.
"This is stupid.
The International Football Association Board (IFAB) initially agreed in March to overturn a ban on the wearing of hijab on pitch.
A final decision to lift the hijab ban will be taken in July.
The U-turn came after FIFA executive committee member Prince Ali Bin Al Hussein of Jordan proposed allowing players to use a Dutch-designed Velcro hijab which comes apart if pulled.
The football governing body FIFA banned Muslim footballers from wearing hijab, an obligatory code of dress, on pitch 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 UN adviser said that banning the Muslim headscarf hinders efforts to engage people of different cultures.
We want to engage women, especially where it is not normal for them to play sport, he said.
"We want to encourage them, not forbid them. We finally got the result from FIFA."
Last month, acting president of the Asian Football Confederation Zhang Jilong welcomed the initial lift of the hijab ban.
It would "remove all barriers and bring in more women players into the game," he said.
"This also shows the world that FIFA and the game's lawmakers are serious about making the game accessible to all and preserving its status as the number one sport in the world."
Physical Olympic sports such as rugby and taekwondo allow Muslim women to wear the headscarf in competition.
Hijab has been thrust into spotlight after France banned the outfit in schools in 2004.
Several European countries have followed the French example in banning the Muslim outfit.Islam sees hijab as an obligatory code of dress, not a religious symbol displaying one's affiliations.