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China Daily Website

AFC chief seeks Blatter's support in Hijab issue

Updated: 2012-03-01 09:46
( Agencies)

The Asian Football Confederation (AFC) has sought FIFA president Sepp Blatter's support in overturning the ban on the hijab when rule makers review the decision on Saturday.

In a letter written to the FIFA boss, AFC acting president Zhang Jilong pitched for a favourable reconsideration of the issue when it is reviewed by the International Football Association Board (IFAB) in London.

"It is our beholden duty to make the game accessible to everyone across the globe and I request you to throw your weight behind this righteous cause," China's Zhang wrote.

While Olympic sports such as rugby and taekwondo allow Muslim women to wear the headscarf in competition, soccer remains against its use, citing safety concerns.

Last year the women's soccer team from Iran were prevented from playing their 2012 Olympic second round qualifying match against Jordan because they refused to remove their hijabs before kick-off.

Iran, who had topped their group in the first round of Olympic qualifiers after going undefeated, were given 3-0 defeats as a penalty which abruptly ended their dreams of qualifying for the London Olympics.

IFAB, founded in 1886, is soccer's ultimate law-making body comprising four members from FIFA and four from the British associations.

FIFA vice-president Prince Ali Bin Al-Hussein of Jordan will present the case for allowing players to use a Dutch-designed Velcro hijab which comes apart if pulled.

"During its meeting last November, the AFC executive committee shared the concerns raised by the AFC women's committee over the hijab issue and consequently a workshop was held under the stewardship of Prince Ali to come up with a worldwide solution," Zhang added in the letter.

"Though I fully understand the safety concerns and am in agreement that the well-being of the players is of paramount importance, I also believe that newly designed hijabs address this aspect in its entirety."

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