By Andrew Warshaw

Girls playing_football_in_hijabFebruary 10 - 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, has already given insidethegames his reasons for 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 others 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."

Prince Ali_at_AFC_lecternPrince Ali (pictured) is to present the case to IFAB for allowing players to use a velcro hijab.

"If you look at other sports such as rugby, they are allowed to play so therefore we hope it will be the same case with football," he said.

"I do hope and do believe that if common sense does prevail all will be supportive of this...why not?

"I don't like the politics, we are going straight to the point which is to allow all of our players to participate on all levels."

Contact the writer of this story at [email protected]

Related stories
January 2012: Asian Football Confederation supports campaign to lift hijab ban on female football players
January 2012: Exclusive - "FIFA has to give same opportunities to everyone" says Prince Ali in hijab row
January 2012: French groups protest FIFA plan to lift ban on hijab
December 2011: Proposal to lift ban on hijab to be put forward to football rule-makers
November 2011: FIFA vice-president to review controversial hijab rule