Experts discuss Hijab in football at Amman seminar.

Jordan Amman, AFC News, Oct 25, 2011: The Asian Football Development Project (AFDP), a non-profit commission founded by HRH Prince Ali Bin Al Hussein- FIFA Vice President-, hosted on Monday, October 24, 2011 a seminar entitled Football and the Hijab: Moving Forward in the Jordanian capital, Amman (Experts discuss Hijab)

The purpose of the seminar is to first address the current position on the matter from all angles and second to propose how to resolve the issue in a way that respects both the Laws of the Game and culture as well as promote football for all women without discrimination.

The hijab issue has taken centre stage in football circles in recent years due to the increasing popularity of women’s football worldwide. It is a cultural issue that not only affects the game, but also impacts society and sports in general. It is not limited to Asia, but extends to other continents as well.

The seminar featured presentations from experts and professionals in football including FIFA Executive Committee member Dr. Michel D’Hooghe, AFC Vice President Moya Dodd, as well as current and former women players from Jordan, the UAE, Bahrain, New Zealand and the United Kingdom, coaches, referees, and football administrators.The discussion focused on the following key areas: Culture, Legal, Safety and Health, Development, Research and Design.

All participants agreed on the following concluding Final Communiqué:

Culture:

1-    The hijabis not a religious symbol, slogan, or statement and rather is in abidance with culture.
2-    We must avoid any form of discrimination or exclusion of football players due to cultural customs.
3-    The football field must be a forum for cultural exchange rather than conflict.

Legal:

1-    There is an absolute need for a clear policy from FIFA, avoiding different interpretations on different levels of the Laws of the Game.
2-    The rules have to be adapted to the evolution of the game and the society or interpreted accordingly.
3-    FIFA is committed to the basic principles of non-discrimination and allows on this basis the use of the head covering.

Safety/Health:

1-   Safety must remain the most important consideration for the use of hijab.
2-    Research must be commenced concerning the safe use of hijab to ensure the safety of hijab in the game. FIFA will coordinate the studies.
3-    We must consider the lower injury risk towards the greater health benefit of practicing football as a sport.

Development:

1-   Allowing the use of hijab will increase the participation of women at all levels of the game.
2-    Football is a powerful developmental tool to empower women across cultures.

Research:

1-    Research should be accelerated in view of the relation with medical issues and effects on performance, and considering the balance between risk and benefits.

Design:

1-    Innovative designs must be examined with full consideration of medical aspects, particularly safety, aesthetic arguments, type of material.

Next Steps:

1-    FIFA Executive Committee members Dr. Michel D’Hooghe and Prince Ali Bin AL Hussein will propose the general principles on the Hijab issue to the next Executive Committee meeting of FIFA in December of 2011, to be agreed as far as they are in accordance with the safety aspects with the aim of proposing to the IFAB meeting in February of 2012.
2-    AFC Executive Committee members Ms. Moya Dodd and Prince Ali Bin Al Hussein will propose the general principles on the Hijab issue to the next Executive Committee meeting of AFC in November of2011.

Participants: Prince Ali Bin Al Hussein,  FIFA Vice President -Asia- Jordan, Dr. Michel D’Hooghe, FIFA Executive Committee, Chairman- FIFA Medical Committee-Belgium,  Ms. Moya Dodd,  AFC Vice President, Chairwoman- AFC Women Committee-Australia, Sheikha Hessa Al Khalifa Bahrain FA WF Committee Vice President-  Bahrain,  Ms. Kelly Simmons The Football Association-UK, Ms. Janie Frampton The Football Association-UK,  Mrs. Nada Abu Baker UAE Football Association-UAE,  Mrs. Amal Abu Shallakh UAE Football Association-UAE,  Ms. Farideh Khanom Shojaei IR Iran FA Representative-IR Iran,  Ms. Rana Husseini JFA Head of Women Committee-Jordan,  Ms. Hesterine De Reus Women’s Football Coach-Netherlands,  Ms. Reema Ramoniah  AFCWF Department Coordinator, Jordan National team player-Jordan,  Mr. Urs Zanitti  AFDP Advisor-Switzerland,  Mr. Windsor John AFDP Advisor-Malaysia, Ms. Michele Cox AFDP Advisor, FIFA Women’s Committee-NZ.

About the Asian Football Development Project (AFDP)

AFDP is a non-profit commission founded and chaired by HRH Prince Ali Bin Al Hussein. Its main pillars include: grassroots and youth development, strengthening women’s football, representing and protecting member associations and finally, and protecting and developing the game.

AFDP will partner with FIFA, AFC and other confederations to compliment the already existing programs that benefit member associations as well as regional federations in Asia in an innovative and socially responsible manner.

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