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The Globe and Mail article discusses the International Football Association Board's unanimous recommendation to rescind the hijab ban first introduced by the Fédération Internationale de Football Association in 2007.
This rule had resulted in the banning of individual female players in FIFA-sanctioned games – including the forfeit of an Olympic qualifying match by the Iranian women’s team. Some (the Quebec Soccer Federation, for instance) used the FIFA edict as a pretext to ban the hijab from the soccer field for non-FIFA events.
The ban reversal followed intense lobbying by Jordan’s Prince Ali bin al-Hussein, a FIFA vice-president, who sought to allay safety concerns by working with Cindy van den Bremen, a Dutch designer of sports-safe hijabs, for a dozen years. Montrealer Elham Seyed Javad (who created a hijab for female martial arts athletes in 2008) has also submitted a design for consideration by FIFA. Muslim women, for whom soccer is a passion, welcomed the IFAB decision. After all, the “beautiful game” is the most universal of sports, encompassing cultures and nations.
Those who fought to have FIFA include hijab-clad players should also lobby Saudi Arabia to allow women to be part of its Olympic national team. Last week, the Saudis confirmed their opposition to sending Saudi women to the London Games. This, despite the Olympic Charter: “Any form of discrimination with regard to a country or a person on grounds of race, religion, politics, sex or otherwise is incompatible with belonging to the Olympic Movement.”