KUALA LUMPUR: Zhang Jilong, Chinese acting president of the Asian football confederation, has welcomed the International Football Association Board’s unanimous endorsement of the use of the headscarf by women players.

The case for lifting a ban was presented to the IFAB by FIFA vice-president Prince Ali bin Al Hussein on Saturday in London and was approved by all eight IFAB members. Ultimate ratification should take place on July 2 after further testing of the new designs.

Jilong said: “I thank the IFAB for doing the right thing. This positive decision will remove all barriers and bring in more women players into the game. This also shows the world that FIFA and the game’s lawmakers are serious about making the game accessible to all and preserving its status as the number one sport in the world.

“Prince Ali deserves my heartiest congratulations for the determined manner in which he took up cudgels on behalf of the women players who were stopped from playing football because they wore hijabs.  He convincingly proved that the hijab is more of a cultural symbol than a religious one.”

Jilong also recorded his appreciation for the support of FIFA president Sepp Blatter, saying: “I also thank president Blatter for his strong support for the lifting of the ban. This is one more great, reformative measure under the leadership of president Blatter and will go a long way in popularising the game among women.”