Published On:03 March 2012
Posted by Indian Muslim Observer

World football body considers reversing headscarf ban

By Helene Hofman

World football's law-making body will this weekend consider reversing a ban on soccer players wearing the hijab.

Football's world governing body, FIFA, banned hijabs in 2007, but, it's only in the past year - after Iran and some members of the Jordanian women's football team were forced to drop out of Olympic qualifiers - that the real push to have the ban overturned began.

Now the Asian Football Confederation, the United Nations and other sporting bodies around Asia have called for the rules to be reviewed, to give players the option of wearing specially-adapted, Velcro-opening headscarves.

Vice-President of the Asian Football Confederation and chair of its Women's Committee, Moya Dodd, has told Radio Australia's Asia Pacific program the emergence of West Asian teams has been a driving factor.

"We've seen teams from Jordan, from Iran, from the UAE, from Bahrain, Indonesia - we're seeing teams come forward and participate in international competitions at different levels," she said.

"And as they make their way through to the big tournaments - the Olympics and the World Cup - this issue is going to arise."

When FIFA introduced its ban on the hijab, it cited concerns over safety.

But, that argument has been rejected by female Muslim players, many of whom choose to wear a specially-adapted head covering - known as the 'capster'.

Its designer, Cindy Van den Breman, says her design conforms to FIFA's requirements.

"This one is actually made with this velcro closing, so that when you pull it, it comes loose, so one of the reasons for the hijab ban on the playing field would be that it would be unsafe, because when girls would be pulling the hijab, she would choke," she said.

"I think that is the same with pulling a shirt - it's not really an issue, the safety, but we try to solve it with this velcro closing."

So far the main opposition to lifting the ban has come from France, where three women's organisations have argued that allowing the hijab would mean religious law was being imposed on women's sport.

When FIFA's Executive Committee first discussed the issue last December, they wrote a letter arguing that football should stay clear of political and religious interfering.

But, Tan Sri Annuar Musa, Deputy President of Malaysian Football Association, and Chairman of Women's Football Committee, rejects that argument.

He says his Muslim players currently accept to play with their heads uncovered, but that lifting the ban would be a show of respect for their beliefs.

"We are in support of this move in order to make football able to be played by everybody, irrespective of their cultural or religious background," he said.

"For most of the Muslim countries, the headscarf is...something of a religious obligation...and we believe that having the headscarf on and playing football will not affect the game in any way."
The International Football Association Board will debate the hijab ban on Saturday.

In order for the rules to be changed, six of the eight members must give their approval.

(Courtesy: Radio Australia News)

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Posted by Indian Muslim Observer on March 03, 2012. Filed under , , , . You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Feel free to leave a response

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