UN welcomes overturning of football headscarf ban

The Iranian women's national soccer team was forced to drop out of Olympic qualifiers last year due to the ban. [Reuters]
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The Iranian women's national soccer team was forced to drop out of Olympic qualifiers last year due to the ban. [Reuters]

Helene Hofman

Last Updated: Tue, 6 Mar 2012 20:24:00 +1100

Soccer's law making body, the International Football Association Board, has overturned a ban on female players wearing the hijab during matches.

The headscarf ban was introduced in 2007, reportedly over concerns about safety.

Lobbying to overturn the ban was spurred on after Iran and some members of the Jordanian women's football team were forced to drop out of Olympic qualifiers.

After almost a year of lobbying by the Asian Football Confederation, and those teams, the ban has now been overturned.

They argued that players could wear a safe, breathable cap, with a velcro strap under the neck.

The UN Secretary General's Special Adviser on Sport, Wilfried Lemke, says overturning the ban is good for women and the sport.

"As you know, we have eight Millenium Development Goals, and the third is to give men and women the same rights - that is gender equality," he said.

"And I think it is a very, very important thing to empower women to use sport more than they do now. And from that point we find out that many more women could play football, especially, if they were allowed to wear a scarf."

Mr Lemke says he hopes other sporting federation look at the overturning of the ban and follow suit.

"This is a very, very important message for all the world of sports, because we know how everybody looks at what FIFA does, so I'm quite sure this is a big, big step forward to allow women wearing headscarfs," he said.

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