FIFA Prohibits Football Players from Wearing Headscarves

Alex Fabian Garcia, Reporter

The Federation Internationale de Football Association (FIFA) forbids hijabs, which are traditional muslim head coverings that cover the hair, neck, and ears, because they’re considered a safety concern by soccer officials. Iranian soccer officials have stated that they intend to protest FIFA officials who denied Iran’s women’s national team the opportunity to compete in an Olympic qualifying match because the players wore the hijab.

Jordan’s Prince Ali bin al-Hussein, a member of FIFA’s executive committee, will urge the rule-making body to consider a Velcro hijab manufactured by the Dutch company Capsters. He stated that the ban on hijabs discourages many Muslim athletes from participating in soccer.

“There is a right for women’s play regardless of any other issues, and we are simply trying to find the best way to facilitate that,” Al-Hussein said.

The incident was not mentioned on FIFA’s website. FIFA barred Iran’s women’s team in April due to its insistence on wearing headscarves, as all women in Iran’s Islamic Republic are required to do. However, FIFA has recently held talks in an attempt to ease Iran’s concerns.

“We will file a complaint to FIFA against the official in charge of the matches,” Ali Kafashian, the head of Iran’s football federation said. “We have already held talks with the president of the International Federation of Association Football about the participation of Iranian women in matches with full Islamic hijab. Unfortunately, however, I do not know why the official in charge of the matches refused to let our team play.”

The Quebec Soccer Federation’s decision to have a young girl remove her hijab was upheld by the rules board in 2007.

In Singapore during the 2010 Youth Olympics, Iranian women who are required by Iranian law to wear hijabs were told that they could not wear hijabs but could wear caps instead. Although the caps did not cover the neck, Iranians were permitted to wear turtlenecks.

Last year, the Iranian national team forfeited an Olympic qualifying match in Jordan after being told to remove their turtlenecks.

According to Iranian news reports, the match in Jordan, a qualifier for next summer’s London Olympics, was called off before it even began because a FIFA official from Bahrain refused to allow the game to continue. Jordan was declared the winner with a score of 3-0. The mention of the Bahraini official comes in light of the current unrest in Bahrain, a country ruled by Sunnis but with a Shiite majority.

“Although it has been said in FIFA’s regulations that no country can play with Islamic dress, we had necessary negotiations with FIFA officials,” Kafashian said. “Unfortunately, I do not know why the Bahraini official in charge of the matches refused to let our team play.”

The long controversial question of whether Muslim female soccer players should be allowed to wear headscarves during matches was discussed at a meeting of the International Sports Rules Committee.