More Details on IFAB’s Headscarf Trial

On October 2nd, the The International Football Association Board (IFAB) held its Annual Business Meeting (ABM). Among the decisions (FIFA Circular #1322 (25-Oct-2012), PDF) to come out of that meeting was a directive on the trial use of headscarves (e.g., hijabs), which had already received the go ahead during IFAB’s special meeting in July (FIFA.com). This trial will last until the March 2014 IFAB Annual General Meeting.

The directive on headscarves is as follows (taken from the FIFA circular):

The headscarf must
–be of the same colour as the jersey
–be in keeping with the professional appearance of the player’s equipment
–not be attached to the jersey
–not pose any danger to the player wearing it or any other player (e.g. opening/closing mechanism around neck)
–only be worn by female players

Sample headscarves from Capsters (www.Capsters.com) and ResportOn (ResportOn.com) “have been presented to both FIFA and the IFAB and are considered to be in accordance with [the above] criteria.”

The French Football Federation (FFF) has been one of the most vocal opponent of allowing headscarves.  Immediately after the special meeting in July, it issued a terse statement declaring that it “will not authorize [female] players” on its national teams or those playing in national competitions “to wear the scarf.” (Telegraph.co.uk) France does have a law banning full face coverings (Wikipedia), but there is no apparent general ban on hijabs.

U.S. Soccer has explicitly allowed religious headcoverings since at least April 1999 (USSoccer.com, see quoted memorandum), so a new memorandum with specific guidance seems unnecessary, except perhaps to expand on the specific requirements of IFAB’s directive.