By Duncan Mackay at the Ritz Carlton in Tokyo

Hijab wearing_footballersDecember 18 - A plan to lift a controversial ban on women wearing a hijab, the Islamic headscarf, is set to be put before the International Football Association Board (IFAB) next year.

FIFA's ruling Executive Committee agreed to put forward a proposal following a presentation here by Prince Ali Bin Hussein of Jordan, the vice-president of the Asian Football Confederation (AFC), who has been campaigning for the ban to be lifted. 

Prince Ali said he wanted the IFAB, who decide on changes to the laws of the sport, to sanction a safe, velcro-opening headscarf for players and officials and asked them to re-consider the law when they meet in Surrey on March 3.

The hijab is currently banned under law four, which lists the "basic equipment" as a jersey, shorts, socks, shin-guards and footwear.

"I look forward to presenting the case at the IFAB meeting," said Al Hussein, the younger brother of Prince Faisal, the head of the Jordanian Olympic Committee. 

The ban has caused controversy on several occasions recently, with Iran being forced to forfeit an Olympic London 2012 qualifying match against Jordan after not being allowed to play with the full Islamic headscarf - rules in the extremely conservative Islamic Republic dictate that female footballers must wear full tracksuits as well as the head covering, which only leaves their eyes, nose and mouth uncovered.

Iran's youth team was also briefly banned from the Summer Youth Olympic Games in Singapore last year for the same reason before a compromise was reached. 

"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," said Al Hussein.

"This is a crucial step forward.

"Our goal at the end of the day is to ensure that all women are able to play football at all levels without any barriers." 

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