ZURICH — Football’s world governing body FIFA on Saturday officially authorized the wearing of head covers for religious purposes during matches.
“It was decided that female players can cover their heads to play,” said FIFA secretary general Jerome Valcke at a meeting of the International Football Association Board (IFAB), the sport’s lawmakers, in Zurich.
That will allow female Muslim players who wear a veil in everyday life to cover their heads during matches, and Valcke added that male players will also be authorized to do so — meaning Jewish, Muslim and other head-coverings will be allowed — following a request from the Sikh community of Canada.
“It was decided that male players can play with head cover too,” he said, although they will not be the same as those worn day to day. “It will be a basic head cover and the color should be the same as the team jersey.”
The wearing of head covers had been banned until 2012, with FIFA saying that they posed too great a risk of injury to the head or neck.
However, the IFAB then allowed for 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.
“It’s a worldwide authorization,” said Valcke, who confirmed that the hosting of the 2016 women’s under-17 World Cup by the Arab kingdom of Jordan played a part in the authorization being introduced.
“It was a plus for them to have authorization from the IFAB for women to be able to play (wearing head covers). It was a request from these (Muslim) countries that said it would help support women’s football there.”
However, it seems that not all countries will be supporting the IFAB’s decision.
The French Football Federation (FFF) reacted to the announcement by saying it would continue to ban the wearing of head covers out of respect to France’s status as a secular country.
In a statement sent to AFP on Saturday, the FFF said it will maintain “the prohibition of the wearing of all religious or confessional symbols.”
This is due to the “constitutional and legislative principles of secularism that prevail in our country and figure in its statutes.”