FIFA allows religious headwear during soccer matches

The international soccer federation has officially ruled that players are allowed to wear headwear on the field.

Hijabs, turbans and kippas were ruled safe after a 20-month trial

The Quebec Soccer Federation chose to enforce a ban on players wearing turbans last April, causing outrage in the Canadian Sikh community. (Ryan Remiorz / CP)

The international soccer federation has officially ruled that players are allowed to wear headwear on the field, including religious garb. 

After 20 months of observation, FIFA determined the risks of sport injuries from turbans, hijabs and kippas were not significant and did not justify a ban. 

"It was decided that the players could have their heads covered for play," Jerome Valcke, the Secretary General of FIFA said at a press conference Saturday.

"We are talking about discrimination, vis-a-vis of women most of the time. You cannot discriminate [against] men. So it was decided that what applies to females can apply the male players."

At the request of Asian soccer federations, headscarfs and turbans were first permitted in 2012. 

The measure was also applied to men in response to a request from the Canadian Sikh community.

The Quebec Soccer Federation chose to enforce a ban on turbans on the soccer pitch last April, causing outrage in the Canadian Sikh community.

Aneel Samra, a practising Sikh who lives in Montreal, was not able to play league soccer during the ban because he wears a turban.

"It’s a huge relief that the main government body for soccer has given a direct decision for this," said Samra.

"Now we can have no further issues about it and kids can continue to enjoy the game all over Quebec and the world while still choosing to practice their religion."

The Canadian Soccer Association​ suspended the QSF from the national organization because of their stance. 

The QSFlifted the ban only after receiving word from FIFA that male players were allowed to wear head cover.

"It’s just an insurance that [the QSF] can’t make another ban like that again," said Samra. 

The QSF said the FIFA decision will allow the federation to focus on the game, however they want clarifications about whether other head covers will also be permitted.

"Are there more options or not? We'll clarify that before meeting all the referees and the coaches," said Martial Prud'homme, president of the Quebec Soccer Federation.

FIFA said it will communicate with different federations to explain the details of the implementation of this decision.

This summer, four Canadian cities — Montreal, Toronto, Edmonton, and Moncton — will host the 2014 FIFA U-20 Women's World Cup with teams​ from 16 different nations.

This year, the 20-day tournament begins on Aug. 5 and wraps Aug. 24 at Montreal's Olympic Stadium. Montreal will host a total of 10 matches over six days, including a quarter-final, one of the semifinals, as well as the match for third place.


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