FIFA rulemakers ban Hijab

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Decision angers female players

A DECISION by the International Football Association Board (IFAB) to ban the Hijab from the game has been met with dismay by two British Muslim players.

Aisha Ahmad and Ayesha Abdeen who play for the British Muslim Women’s Football team said the announcement by the game’s ultimate decision-making body was a step back in encouraging British Muslim women to participate in the sport.

The move from the IFAB was made at the organisations annual meeting held in Manchester and was in direct reference to the controversial decision to prevent an 11-year-old Muslim girl from taking part in a football match in Quebec last month.

The young player was banned from the competition by a referee after she refused to remove her Hijab.

Speaking at the meeting Brian Barwick, the chief executive of the English Football Association said that Law 4 regarding what players were allowed to wear on the pitch was clear on the issue.

“It’s absolutely right to be sensitive to people’s thoughts and philosophies but equally there has to be a set of laws that are adhered to, and we favour Law 4 being adhered to”, he said.

“It was discussed and it was discussed seriously, and from my own association’s viewpoint this is not an issue we have much knowledge or experience of. We believe our football is inclusive.”

Mr Barwick added that although no similar experience had occurred in England, the FA would allow referee’s to make the Hijab decision in competitive matches.

But Aisha Ahmad who wears the Hijab, plays for the British Muslim Women’s Football team and represented Britain in the Islamic Games in Iran in 2005 said the decision was taking away opportunities for Muslim women.

“They are categorically pinpointing Muslim women and I feel that they have just taken the opportunity away from Muslim women who currently play football wearing the Hijab”, she told The Asian Today.

“They should be promoting participation and increasing opportunities not taking them away from people. So much for community cohesion and social inclusion.”

Fellow player and vice-president of the London-based Muslim Women’s Sports Foundation (MWSF), Ayesha Abdeen, told the Asian Today the organisation would invite both the FA and FIFA to discuss the matter with them in the hope of gaining a better understanding of the issues surrounding the Hijab.

“The MWSF believes that safety is a very important issue in football. However, from our experiences the Hijab has never posed a threat to the safety of any of our players”, she said.

“The FA have said they are not experienced in this issue, therefore we invite them & FIFA to contact us to gain a better understanding. We have been working hard to breakdown barriers to get Muslim women into football.

“For the sake of inclusiveness, we hope that match officials will use their discretion in this matter.”

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