Anti-hijab ban campaign hit by unexpected setback
Thursday, 24 May 2012
May 24 - The Asian-led campaign to lift the ban on women footballers wearing the Islamic headscarf suffered a serious setback today when FIFA's leading medical expert said he was still not satisfied by progress made.
Two months ago, the International Football Association Board (IFAB), comprising FIFA and the four British home associations, unanimously agreed to lift the ban on the hijab, pending health and safety checks.
The assumption was that Muslim women would be cleared to wear the headscarf in international football from July.
FIFA's youngest and most progressive Executive Committee member Prince Ali Bin Al Hussein of Jordan, who has led the campaign to overturn the ban on the hijab, gave a persuasive demonstration to IFAB members on revolutionary non-zipped Velcro-designed headscarves (pictured above), understood to be 100 per cent safe.
But it has now emerged that the all-important clause about safety checks could cause considerable delay.
"We have received some samples and some doctors, including from the Muslim countries, said they represented a danger," said Michel D'Hooghe, chairman of FIFA's Medical Committee.
"When a girl is running at speed someone can hit the headscarf and that can lead to head lesions."
D'Hooghe, speaking after a two-day FIFA medical conference here, conceded that Velcro designs were far safer than a zip, but said there was still room for improvement.
"If tomorrow we receive a proposal and we have no doubt it is medically okay we can give the green light.
"But to be specific, we have to avoid any problems on the side of the neck if it gets pulled.
"When you are running and someone pulls it back you can have a hyper-extension of your neck.
"I wouldn't like to be responsible for that."
D'Hooghe's comments represent a serious body blow for Prince Ali and his supporters who have been campaigning vigorously for a Velcro hijab to be worn if required.
"The truth is that we have had a meeting with representatives of the industry and they have promised to bring us new proposals," said D'Hooghe.
"We are awaiting these in the coming days.
"Once that is received and they are okayed medically, the decision is still up to the International Board.
"But for the moment there are still medical objections."
May 2012: Prince Ali Bin Al Hussein honoured for hijab ban overturn campaigning
March 2012: AFC President Jilong thanks IFAB for lifting hijab ban
March 2012: Ban on women footballers wearing hijab to be lifted
March 2012: FIFA's hijab ban is prejudice, insists Prince Ali
March 2012: UN urge FIFA to scrap hijab ban to "challenge gender stereotypes"