With this summer’s inaugural Youth Olympics fast approaching, there was one group of young women who were facing exclusion. That is until this week when FIFA said they will allow the Iranian girls soccer team to compete at the Games as long as their players swap their traditional head scarves for a cap that covers their hair.
The compromise comes after soccer’s governing body last month barred the team because of its insistence on wearing head scarves. FIFA banned hijab scarves – which protect the modesty of Islamic girls and women – in 2007 for safety reasons and to prevent political or religious statements on the field.
“This decision was taken after both the Iran Football Federation as well as the Iran National Olympic Committee confirmed in writing that they will accept a solution whereby the players will not wear their Islamic Hijab during the matches of the competition,” FIFA said in a statement. “Instead, the players can wear a cap that covers their heads to the hairline, but does not extend below the ears to cover the neck.”
The Iran Football Federation was not immediately available for comment. The state-run Tehran Times reported that Iranian authorities had agreed to allow players to wear hats.
“We sent FIFA a sample of our new Islamic dress and fortunately they accepted it,” said Abbas Torabian, director of the International Relations Committee of Iran’s soccer federation. “They announced that there was no objection if the players covered their hair with hats.”
Iran will compete in the six-nation tournament in Singapore. About 3,600 athletes, ages 14-18, will compete Aug. 12-25 in 26 sports at the Youth Summer Games.