[Iranian team were forced to forfeit a qualifier for the London Olympics due to the Fifa kit rules]
Football’s world governing body has approved provisions for players to wear headwear for religious purposes on March 1.
The International Football Association Board (IFAB) – an umbrella organisation of British football associations, alongside Fifa, that determines the game’s rule – was forced to reconsider its kit laws to avoid a repeat of the debacle that forced the Iranian women team on the brink of qualification for the London Olympics to forfeit a qualifier in 2011.
IFAB sanctioned the official use of headwear, after a two-year trial period endorsed by Fifa’s Asian Vice-President, Prince Ali Bin Hussein of Jordan.
Fifa’s rule change comes a decade behind the Olympic International Committee who have allowed women to compete wearing the hijab thanks to lobbying from the former Vice-President of Iran’s National Olympic Committee and founding member of Islamic Federation of Women’s Sport, Faezeh Hashemi.
Fifa ratified the use of head provisionally in July 2012 when Prince Ali presented the case for the change in the regulations.
Supported by the Asian Football Development Project Commission and other Fifa Vice-Presidents, Prince Ali asked IFAB to approve a safe Velcro-opening hijab. He argued: “This issue impacts on millions of women worldwide and it is crucial to address, in the best possible way, the issue that ensures the safety of the players respects culture and promotes football for all women without discrimination,” he said.
He added the goal “is to ensure that all women are able to play football at all levels without any barriers.”
Fifa’s kit laws caused a series of rows the most notable of which the saw Iran women’s team forced to forfeit an Olympic qualifier against Jordan on June 4, after being refused permission to play wearing the hijab.
A spokesman for Fifa told The Muslim News that the problem emerged when the Iranians went back on a compromise reached in 2010 to wear “a cap that… does not extend below the ears.”
However, Iran’s Football Director, Farideh Shojaei, insisted: “We made the required corrections … We played the next round and were not prevented from doing so, and they didn’t find anything wrong.”