UN urges FIFA to allow hijab in football
FIFA will to discuss the controversial hijab rule in a meeting this weekend. AP photoThe United Nations has urged FIFA to allow Islamic women to wear a hijab headscarf while playing football.
The U.N. says Wilfried Lemke, sports adviser to Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, has written to FIFA President Sepp Blatter backing a proposal being considered at a meeting on March 3.
Lemke writes that “FIFA has the responsibility to ensure that everyone has an equal chance to participate in football.” FIFA outlawed hijabs for safety reasons in 2007, and allowed a cap which some players object to because it exposes their neck.
FIFA’s rules panel meets in England, and will receive a presentation from FIFA vice president Prince Ali of Jordan to allow a headscarf held in place by a Velcro fastener.
Meanwhile, the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) has sought Blatter’s support in overturning the ban on the hijab as well.
In a letter written to the FIFA boss, AFC acting president Zhang Jilong pitched for a favourable reconsideration of the issue when it is reviewed by the International Football Association Board (IFAB) in London.
“It is our beholden duty to make the game accessible to everyone across the globe and I request you to throw your weight behind this righteous cause,” China’s Zhang wrote.
While sports such as rugby and taekwondo allow women to wear hijab in games, football remains against its use, citing safety concerns.
Last year the women’s football team from Iran was prevented from playing a 2012 Olympic second round qualifying match against Jordan because players refused to remove their hijabs before kick-off.
Iran, who had topped its group in the first round of Olympic qualifiers, was given 3-0 defeats as a penalty which abruptly ended the team’s dreams of qualifying for the London Olympics.
IFAB is football’s ultimate law-making body.
FIFA vice-president Prince Ali Bin Al-Hussein of Jordan will present the case for allowing players to use a Dutch-designed Velcro hijab which comes apart if pulled.
“Though I fully understand the safety concerns and am in agreement that the well-being of the players is of paramount importance, I also believe that newly designed hijabs address this aspect in its entirety.”