Temporary hijab ban sidelines Edmonton soccer team

A Muslim women's soccer team in Edmonton has had to postpone all their games until the Alberta Soccer Association makes a final ruling on players wearing headscarves on the field.

A Muslimfemale soccer team in Edmonton has had to postpone all their games until the Alberta Soccer Association makes afinal decisionon players wearing headscarves on the field.

Half thegirls on theAl-Ikhwat team wear a hijab, a headscarf worn by some Muslim females in keeping with their belief of dressing modestly.

The provincial association has temporarily banned players from wearing hijabs on the pitch after a referee asked a 14-year-old girl to leave a game in Calgary last month. He said her headscarf posed a safety risk.

The Alberta Soccer Association follows international rules that forbid all headgear, including sweatbands, but said it will review safety issues before making a final ruling on hijabs.

Amereen Chowdhury, a Grade 12 student who's playedwith the teamfor a year and a half wearing her hijab, says it's not dangerous.

"Talk to us directly. Ask us what it's like so we can show then that it's not a dangerous issue. Our hijabs don't have pins in it and they are tucked into our jersey," she told CBC News.

"This is basically a lack of knowledge on their behalf because they don't know how it's like to run or to exercise or to be physically active with a hijab on."

The team plays in the Edmonton and District Soccer Association's indoor league. Mike Thorne, the group'sexecutive director,said women wearing hijabs have been playing in Edmonton for more than seven years without any problems.

The EDSA is disappointed the team has been sidelined, Thome said.

"We feel a great deal of remorse over accepting this team into our program and having their expectations shot down by Alberta Soccer, and we hope this ruling will get reversed and they can go back to playing the game they love."

The earliest Alberta soccer officials are expected to meet on the hijab issue is mid-December.

Soccer associations in B.C. and Ontario have made exceptions for hijabs while Quebec has banned it.