Magazine article Islamic Horizons

Soccer Gets Muslim Women Friendly

Magazine article Islamic Horizons

Soccer Gets Muslim Women Friendly

Article excerpt

ON MARCH 13, WHEN SAMAH Aidah was prohibited by soccer referees in Aurora, Colo., from playing in a game due to her hijab, her teammates on the Overland High School girls soccer team turned out in hijabs. Immediately after, her school submitted an application for an accommodation to the team uniform and she was allowed to compete.

The scenario is changing for Muslims desiring to participate in the mainstream while maintaining traditional Islamic attire.

FIFA Secretary-General Jerome Valcke announced rescinding the ban on March 1. The amendment also favors Sikh males who wear turbans. The judgment also could be interpreted to include goalkeepers who choose to wear protective headgear.

The wearing of head cover had been banned until 2012, with FIFA saying that they posed too great a risk of injury to the head or neck. However, FIFA's governing body, the International Football Association Board (IFAB), then allowed them to be tested out over a two-year period following a request from the Asian Football Confederation (AFC), a trial which proved to be successful.

The law banning hijab was officially implemented in 2007. The hijabi footballer's case was taken up more than five years ago by Prince Ali Bin A1 Hussein of Jordan, a FIFA executive committee member. This campaign was supported by numerous online campaigns, United Nations Special Advisor on Sport Support Initiative and advocates of women's sports, the Asian Football Confederation, and the West Asian Football Federation.

It also came after numerous Muslim women were denied a chance to play and national teams were ejected from various international tournaments for their choice to wear hijab while playing. For many athletes, this is not a moment of celebration but of sheer relief.

Unsurprisingly, hijab being banned from the pitch has been a highly politicized issue. Some countries (such as France and the Canadian province of Quebec) had planned to continue to ban hijab despite this law being declared outdated and unfair.

Many ethnic communities rallied around the women being excluded creating a league for players and women.

In Mississauga, a city in the Canadian province of Ontario, the Muslim Youth Soccer League that boasts more than 800 players, including a women's division, created an inclusive and challenging way to engage in the game. …

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