DILI (26 Oct 2011) – The Asian Football Development Project (AFDP), a non-profit commission founded by HRH Prince Ali Bin Al Hussein, FIFA Vice President, hosted a seminar entitled Football and the Hijab: Moving Forward in the Jordanian capital, Amman.
The purpose of the seminar is to first address the current position on the matter from all angles and second to propose how to resolve the issue in a way that respects both the Laws of the Game and culture as well as promote football for all women without discrimination.
The hijab issue has taken centre stage in football circles in recent years due to the increasing popularity of women’s football worldwide. It is a cultural issue that not only affects the game, but also impacts society and sports in general. It is not limited to Asia, but extends to other continents as well.
The seminar featured presentations from experts and professionals in football including FIFA Executive Committee member Dr. Michel D’Hooghe, AFC Vice President Moya Dodd, as well as current and former women players from Jordan, the UAE, Bahrain, New Zealand and the United Kingdom, coaches, referees, and football administrators. The discussion focused on the following key areas – Culture, Legal, Safety and Health, Development, Research and Design.
All participants agreed on the following concluding Final Communique –
1- The hijab is not a religious symbol, slogan, or statement and rather is in abidance with culture.
2- We must avoid any form of discrimination or exclusion of football players due to cultural customs.
3- The football field must be a forum for cultural exchange rather than conflict.
1- There is an absolute need for a clear policy from FIFA, avoiding different interpretations on different levels of the Laws of the Game.
2- The rules have to be adapted to the evolution of the game and the society or interpreted accordingly.
3- FIFA is committed to the basic principles of non-discrimination and allows on this basis the use of the head covering.
1- Safety must remain the most important consideration for the use of hijab.
2- Research must be commenced concerning the safe use of hijab to ensure the safety of hijab in the game. FIFA will coordinate the studies.
3- We must consider the lower injury risk towards the greater health benefit of practicing football as a sport.
1- Allowing the use of hijab will increase the participation of women at all levels of the game.
2- Football is a powerful developmental tool to empower women across cultures.
1- Research should be accelerated in view of the relation with medical issues and effects on performance, and considering the balance between risk and benefits.
1- Innovative designs must be examined with full consideration of medical aspects, particularly safety, aesthetic arguments, type of material.