FIFA has agreed to lift the ban on the Islamic headscarf05 March 2012

FIFA has agreed to lift the ban on the Islamic headscarf being worn by female footballers after the International Football Association Board (IFAB) were persuaded of the need to do so.

Muslim women will therefore be cleared to wear the headscarf in international football from July.

FIFA's youngest Executive Committee member (Prince) Ali Bin Al Hussein of Jordan had led the campaign to overturn the ban on the hijab on safety grounds and gave a demonstration of non-zipped Velcro-designed headscarves that were deemed to be safe. The ban is lifted subject to final checks on the Velcro headscarf.

Prince Ali is understood to have received backing from English FA chairman David Bernstein, who chaired the meeting, to make sure the issue received a full airing.

Support for ban to be lifted
The initiative to lift the ban, which excludes many Muslim women from playing football, was also supported by UN Secretary General's special adviser on sport, Wilfried Lemke, international players' union FIFPro and the FARE network.

The headscarf issue hit the headlines last summer when Iran's women's team had to forfeit their Olympic qualifiers after refusing to remove their hijabs.

That was the day before Prince Ali officially took up his role on the FIFA Executive Committee and, since the incident occurred in his native Jordan, he launched a personal campaign to force a change of attitude.

“I am deeply grateful that the proposal to allow women to wear a headscarf in football was unanimously endorsed by all members of IFAB,” the Prince told reporters after today's hearing.

“I am confident that once the final ratification in the July Special Meeting of IFAB takes place, we will see many delighted and happy players returning to the football field and playing the game that they love.”

FIFA say it was a ‘football decision’
FIFA general secretary Jerome Valcke was keen to stress that FIFA had not been pressured into supporting a change of heart.

“We had a lot of letters from around the world but that was not the basis of the decision,” he said,

“It was based on a report and what the four members and FIFA felt about this issue, it had nothing to do with what the United Nations said to FIFA.

“After all, we don't say anything about Syria to the United Nations. It was purely a football issue.”