Experts discuss Hijab in football at Amman seminar

Asian Football Confederation

Asian Football Confederation

The Asian Football Development Project (AFDP), a non-profit commission founded by HRH Prince Ali Bin Al Hussein- FIFA Vice President-, hosted on Monday, October 24, 2011 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: 

Culture: 

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. 

Legal: 

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. 

Safety/Health: 
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. 

Development: 
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. 
  
Research: 
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. 

Design: 
1-    Innovative designs must be examined with full consideration of medical aspects, particularly safety, aesthetic arguments, type of material. 

Next Steps: 
1-    FIFA Executive Committee members Dr. Michel D’Hooghe and Prince Ali Bin AL Hussein will propose the general principles on the Hijab issue to the next Executive Committee meeting of FIFA in December of 2011, to be agreed as far as they are in accordance with the safety aspects with the aim of proposing to the IFAB meeting in February of 2012. 

2-    AFC Executive Committee members Ms. Moya Dodd and Prince Ali Bin Al Hussein will propose the general principles on the Hijab issue to the next Executive Committee meeting of AFC in November of 2011. 

Participants 

Prince  Ali Bin Al Hussein 
 FIFA Vice President – Asia 
 Jordan 
  
Dr. Michel D’Hooghe 
 FIFA Executive Committee, Chairman- FIFA Medical Committee 
 Belgium 
  
Ms. Moya Dodd 
 AFC Vice President, Chairwoman- AFC Women Commitee 
 Australia 
  
Sheikha Hessa Al Khalifa 
 Bahrain FA WF Committee Vice President 
 Bahrain 
  
Ms. Kelly Simmons 
 The Football Association 
 UK 
  
Ms. Janie Frampton 
 The Football Association 
 UK 
  
Mrs. Nada Abu Baker 
 UAE Football Association 
 UAE 
  
Mrs. Amal Abu Shallakh 
 UAE Football Association 
 UAE 
  
  
Ms. Farideh Khanom Shojaei 
 IR Iran FA Representative 
 IR Iran 
  
Ms. Rana Husseini 
 JFA Head of Women Committee 
 Jordan 
  
Ms. Hesterine De Reus 
 Women’s Football Coach 
 Netherlands 
  
Ms. Reema Ramoniah 
 AFC WF Department Coordinator, Jordan National team player 
 Jordan 
  
Mr. Urs Zanitti 
 AFDP Advisor 
 Switzerland 
  
Mr. Windsor John 
 AFDP Advisor 
 Malaysia 
  
Ms. Michele Cox 
 AFDP Advisor, FIFA Women’s Committee 
 NZ 

1 Comment

  1. With regards to the article submitted by Tapa Menon on the discussion about hijabs in football, I admire a Canadian news website for acknowledging this discussion. Canada being one of the most multicultural countries in the world, this particular topic has much relevance because out of the 1.1 million immigrants between 2001 and 2006, 58% were from Asia. Therefore the topic about a hijab being worn in sports has been a topic of conversation for some time now.

    As the article states, due to the increasing popularity of women’s football worldwcomment_IDe, the hijab is not only a cultural issue that affects the game but also impacts society and sports in general. When women notice that other people in their culture are not participating in a sport such as football, it takes a strong woman to become a leader and start to play. For the more timcomment_ID women, this may be more difficult for them and they may not take initiative to play. In the West Asian cultures, it is usually sacomment_ID that the women are covered from their neck down and to wear a hijab. Many women have deviated from the norm and wear shorts or t-shirts while playing sports but the hijab is a permanent symbol that may restrict women to participate in some activities such as swimming.

    Now that the Asian Football Development Project added attention to the importance of a hijab, many aspects of football have been looked at such as the culture itself that the hijab represents, and legal issues, safety/ health, etc., which the article touches on. Do you believe that these aspects should be looked at for all barriers in sport, and if so, which barrier do you think is the most important and to look at first?

    Covering this issue is so important because it gets the ball rolling to address other obstacles that may affect indivcomment_IDuals from playing sport. More coverage about barriers in sport should be posted, comment_approved, and discussed for the public to be aware of what others may be going through and ways in which communities can help each other. How can we as readers and viewers help diminish barriers for others and help everyone be involved in physical activity without feeling as though they are ostracized for their traditions?

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