AMMAN – Seeing the Olympic games as an opportunity for Muslim athletes to shine and prove themselves, FIFA vice president for Asia Prince Ali of Jordan called for allowing Islamic headscarf in the coming London Olympics to gather athletes of different cultures under one undiscriminating umbrella.
"I think that the hijab will not hinder the participation of Muslim women in the Olympic Games," Prince Ali, half-brother of King Abdullah II, told Agence France Presse (AFP) in an interview on Monday, April 28.
"The games will be a great opportunity for Arab and Muslim women to show their capabilities and prove themselves."
Prince Ali has been campaigning over the past months to allow headscarf for female Muslim athletes in sports following a decision to ban players from wearing it in 2007, claiming it is unsafe.
"Safety is important of course, but to date, there have been no reported injuries due the headscarf on the pitch," said the prince.
"We all have a responsibility to ensure that all women who wear a headscarf are able to participate in the game they love. Football is a sport for all."
Last month, the International Football Association Board (IFAB) allowed women players to wear the hijab, a decision to be ratified later in its meeting next July.
"We held a meeting in FIFA with designers of a safe headscarf as well as independent technical testing institutes in order to discuss the new designs," Ali said.
"The decision now lies with the medical committee ... which will give a recommendation to FIFA before the July meeting."
In April 2010, FIFA announced that it was planning to ban the Muslim headscarf and other religious outings during the 2012 London Olympics.
Last year, Iran women's football team were prevented from playing their 2012 Olympic second round qualifying match against Jordan because they refused to remove their hijabs before kickoff.
Iran, who had topped their group in the first round of Olympic qualifiers after going undefeated, were given 3-0 defeats as a penalty which abruptly ended their dreams of qualifying for the London Olympics.
The FIFA official confirmed that allowing hijab would empower Muslim athletes who shined in former Olympic games in Beijing.
"I always support women," said Prince Ali, the son of Jordan's late King Hussein and late Queen Alia.
“Personally, I was happy that my sister (Princess Haya) competed at the 2000 Sydney Olympic Games in show jumping.”
Islam sees hijab as an obligatory code of dress, not a religious symbol displaying one’s affiliations.
Physical Olympic sports such as rugby and taekwondo allow Muslim women to wear the headscarf in competition.
Hijab shined during Beijing Olympic Games in 2008 when many Muslim women athletes broke Western stereotypes, proving that donning the hijab is not an obstacle to excelling in life and sports.
During the games, half a dozen veiled Egyptians, three Iranians, an Afghan and a Yemeni were competing in sprinting, rowing, taekwondo and archery.
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