FIFA’s Vice President: Hijab ban is limiting participation10 February 2012

Muslim women are being discouraged from taking up football because of the worldwide ban of the hijab, the Islamic headscarf, according to FIFA vice-president Prince Ali Bin Al Hussein of Jordan, the man leading the campaign to change the rules.

Next month football's lawmakers, the International Football Association Board (IFAB), stage their annual meeting and the hijab is one of the main items on the agenda.

While some Olympic sports allow Muslim women to wear the hijab, football has so far ruled it out citing safety concerns.

Last year the Iranian women's team had their hopes of playing at the London 2012 Olympics dashed when they refused to remove their hijabs during a qualifying game and were handed 3-0 defeats for all of their second-round fixtures.

Prince Ali, FIFA's youngest vice-president, is opposing the ban and has now reiterated the importance of a favourable IFAB decision, saying Muslim women could otherwise continue to turn away from the sport.

“I think already we have seen that, and I think that is very unfortunate,” he told Reuters.

“I think we need to give the right to [play] to everyone across the world and we have to respect each other’s cultures.

“It is very important that everybody has the chance to play the sport that they love and obviously the laws of the games have to be amended to allow that.

“I think that football, being the most popular sport in the world, accessible to all, we should take the lead on this issue and therefore that is what we are trying to pursue and hopefully we will get a pass from IFAB.”