FIFA okays religious head covers for soccer players

International rule-making body for soccer lifts ban on kippot, hijab, turbans, after 2-year trial period.

Hapoel Tel Aviv's Itay Shechter (R) celebrates goal during match in Salzburg, August 18, 2010. (photo credit: REUTERS)
Hapoel Tel Aviv's Itay Shechter (R) celebrates goal during match in Salzburg, August 18, 2010.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
The international rule-making body for soccer approved on Saturday provisions allowing male and female players to wear head covers for religious purposes during matches.
The International Football Association Board (IFAB) - an umbrella organization of British soccer associations, alongside FIFA, that determines the game's rule -  sanctioned the official use of headwear for women, after a two-year trial period, as well as for men.
FIFA ratified the use of head scarves for women, a measure which had been provisionally approved in July 2012 mainly so that women Muslim players could use the hijab.
"We had a request from the Sikh community to play with headgear and to avoid discrimination against men, it was decided that what applied to women can apply to men," said FIFA secretary general Jerome Valcke.
"We will work exactly on the definition on these covers."
IFAB, comprising the four British associations and four representatives of FIFA was formed in 1886 and predates the founding of FIFA by some 18 years.
The body, which is undergoing changes of its own with the introduction of technical and football sub-committees, sanctions and changes the laws after at least a three-quarters majority in favor of any proposal.
In January, following protests by athletes and politicians, Israel’s soccer association suspended its ban on wearing kippot for its minor leagues.
The regulation had been handed down by the Union of Soccer Referees in recent weeks, according to an Army Radio report on January 3. The union said it was hewing to the rules of the FIFA International Soccer Association.
“Until the end of the season, the status quo will remain for lower lower leagues, and any observant player who chooses to play with a kippah will be able to do so,” Israel’s Soccer Association said in a statement. The association did not specify its policy on major league games.
A spokesman for the referees union told Army Radio that league matches are conducted according to FIFA regulations, which determine what players may wear on the field. No head gear of any kind is on the list. Staff contributed to this report.