FIFA takes first step towards lifting hijab ban for Muslim women soccer players

File this one as a win!

Muslim female soccer players are celebrating a decision by the International Football Association Board to allow them to test specially designed head coverings for four months.

Soccer’s international governing body, known as FIFA, has prohibited headscarves since 2007, citing safety concerns. The new headscarves will be fastened with Velcro rather than pins.

As you may remember, thanks to the ban on veiling, Iran’s women’s soccer team was effectively banned from participating in the next Olympics. That prompted Jordan’s Prince Ali Bin Al Hussein, who is a vice president of FIFA, to start pushing for change. A Dutch design successfully convinced FIFA that safety was not an issue.

I’m thrilled to see that there’s one less reason for Muslim women to be prevented from participating in the beautiful game. As women’s soccer in the U.S. continues to face financial struggles, this is a good reminder that sports are, above all, about playing and everyone should have the right to play.

Atlanta, GA

Maya Dusenbery is an Executive Director in charge of Editorial at Feministing. Maya has previously worked at NARAL Pro-Choice New York and the National Institute for Reproductive Health and was a fellow at Mother Jones magazine. She graduated with a B.A. from Carleton College in 2008. A Minnesota native, she currently lives, writes, edits, and bakes bread in Atlanta, Georgia.

Maya Dusenbery is an Executive Director of Feministing in charge of Editorial.

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  • Rosa von Gleichen

    I absolutely support the right for everybody to play. But I can’t ignore the fact that the vale, like jewish headscarves, harkens back to the notion that women are to blame for male sexual desire. Women incite sin and thus must be covered, so that idea goes. That’s why women who wore mini-skirts in the 60’s couldn’t sue for rape — they were asking for it. I realize that I’m making arcs here, but the topics are connected. And I can’t celebrate a lifting of the ban of the vale in a world where women are still blamed, beaten, locked-up, raped, gang raped and murdered for inciting sexual desire in men.

  • Z

    The Iranian national soccer team might consist at most of 25 players. Obviously, this is good news for them. However, there are hundreds of millions of women who have to suffer from the oppression that the veil represents. They have more important concern than professional soccer. We should treat fairly and feel sorry for people who are opressed, even those who voluntarily submit to the oppression. However, this does not mean being sympathetic to the means and symbols of their opression! Rosa, the person who posted above, is absolutely correct in her characterization of the veil. It’s not some neutral expression of religious or cultural identity. People have a right to wear the veil, and we have a right to critiscize it!

  • Brian Lindeboom

    @Rosa. While everything you said is absolutely true, it is simply no one’s decision but their own. It may be doubtful that the Iranian woman’s soccer team has any particular choice in the matter, but for feminism to succeed in a conflicted and confusing world it must be as open and flexible as its opponents are not. I am certain is it possible, if not likely, for millions of women to find something sacred and empowering about that part of their identity. Something good has been done here; despite Umarist stances on the proper role of women.