6 Jul 2012

FIFA allows women footballers to wear head scarves

7:54 am on 6 July 2012

Football chiefs have agreed to lift a ban on women wearing headscarves during games, clearing the way for the participation of many Muslim nations in top-flight competition.

The hijab is worn by women beyond the age of puberty to observe Islamic rules on modesty and interaction of the sexes.

Players had been prevented from wearing a headscarf, or hijab, at the sport's highest level for safety reasons and on religious grounds.

Critics said the ban promoted inequality at the highest level of the world's most popular game.

Public changes in the FIFA's thinking were clear last year when it was decided that the hijab was a cultural rather than a religious symbol.

In March, the International Football Association Board IFAB said it was in favour of female players wearing the hijab in games organised by FIFA.

That announcement followed the proposal of a Velcro hijab which comes apart by FIFA Vice President Prince Ali Bin al-Hussein of Jordan.

In 2011, the Iranian team was disqualified for refusing to remove their headscarves moments before kick-off in the 2012 Olympic second round qualifying match against Jordan.

According to FIFA, more than 29 million women and girls around the world play the game.