ZURICH: Muslim women can now wear a specially-designed headscarf at senior competitive level after a powerful campaign was rewarded by the law-making International Board in Zurich today writes KEIR RADNEDGE.

In March the law-making International Board decided that, at this special  summer meeting, it would approve a re-designed headscarf for use by Muslim women players at senior level, pending the outcome of further tests.

However, comments at FIFA Congress in May by Michel D’Hooghe, the Belgian FIFA executive member who is head of the medical committee, revealed that the testing process had become mired in miscommunication and confusion. D’Hooghe, at that point, remained opposed to the new headscarf.

The Dutch and Canadian manufacturers involved – respectively Capsters and ‘R’ – complained that FIFA had not been in touch about modifications.

Further discussions ensured between manufacturers, D’Hooghe and FIFA vice-president Prince Ali of Jordan who has been leading the headscarf campaign and was furious at the prospect of seeing the International Board delay an approval.

Last week D’Hooghe, in Kyiv for a UEFA executive committee, indicated a change of mind. This was crucial because the International Board was dependent on the advice of the medical committee which meant, in effect, D’Hooghe and his close ally Jiri Dvorak, FIFA’s medical chief.

Hence D’Hooghe, on behalf of the medical committee, was content to approve the new designs for use with a further review – based on players’reactions and assessments – in a year’s time. The business meeting of IFAB, in October, will make a ruling on issues such as colouring (to match kit)

England’s Football Association has thrown the weight of its own support behind the campaign. General secretary Alex Horne said: “The headscarf decision is a hugely important one to allow entire populations of people to enjoy the game we all love in a free capacity, unencumbered from laws of the game which had the effect of restricting them.”

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