Football’s world governing body FIFA on Saturday officially authorised the wearing of head covers for religious purposes during matches.
“It was decided that female players can cover their heads to play,” said FIFA secretary general Jerome Valcke at a meeting of the International Football Association Board (IFAB), the sport’s lawmakers, in Zurich.
That will allow female Muslim players who wear a veil in everyday life to cover their heads during matches, and Valcke added that male players will also be authorised to do so following a request from the Sikh community of Canada.
“It was decided that male players can play with head cover too,” he said, although they will not be the same as those worn day to day.
“It will be a basic head cover and the colour should be the same as the team jersey.”
The wearing of head covers had been banned until 2012, with FIFA saying that they posed too great a risk of injury to the head or neck.
However, the IFAB then allowed for them to be tested out over a two-year period following a request from the Asian Football Confederation (AFC), a trial which proved to be successful.
“It’s a worldwide authorisation,” said Valcke, who confirmed that the hosting of the 2016 women’s under-17 World Cup by the Arab kingdom of Jordan played a part in the authorisation being introduced.
“It was a plus for them to have authorisation from the IFAB for women to be able to play (wearing head covers). It was a request from these (muslim) countries that said it would help support women’s football there.”
However, it seems that not all countries will be supporting the IFAB’s decision.
The French Football Federation (FFF) reacted to the announcement by saying they would continue to ban the wearing of head covers out of respect to France’s status as a secular country.
In a statement sent to AFP on Saturday, the FFF said they will maintain “the prohibition of the wearing of all religious or confessional symbols”.
This is due to the “constitutional and legislative principles of secularism that prevail in our country and figure in its statutes.”
The panel, known as IFAB, asked in March for further medical advice on whether new designs were safe for women players to wear. Headscarves were banned from FIFA competitions for safety reasons in 2007.
Last month, D’Hooghe said his committee’s tests suggested scarves “represented a danger” to players who could sustain head and neck injuries, or overheat.
That drew an angry response from his FIFA executive committee colleague, Prince Ali of Jordan, who has led a year-long campaign seeking respect for Islamic cultural tradition, and creating more opportunities for women to play, by overturning the ban.
Prince Ali said he was “quite shocked,” and produced medical research which challenged FIFA’s position.
On Friday, D’Hooghe said he would no longer object to the designs after “more discussions” in recent weeks.
“There is no risk of strangulation. I was asked for a medical opinion, and the discussions I had were purely medical,” said the Belgian doctor, who did not elaborate on what swayed his opinion.
D’Hooghe told The Associated Press: “The problems I had (with scarves) were medical, and I don’t have those problems anymore.”
Check his bank account for payments from Jordanian officials or maybe NSA can check phone records to see how many death threats came from the same.