London, March 31, IRNA - The International Football Association Board (IFAB) has come under criticism from British Muslim organizations for "remaining ambiguous on the question of the hijab." At its annual general meeting in Manchester, north-west England, this month, IFAB upheld the Players' Equipment Law Four, which leaves permission of wearing the hijab to the discretion of referees, despite Muslim groups seeking regulation allowing religious dress.
Chairwoman for the UK's Muslim Women's Sport Foundation, (MWSF) Rimla Akhtar, said that nothing had been resolved from the meeting of the board, which is composed of four FIFA representatives and one each from England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.
"They gave no guidance to referees. It's something the football associations have to resolve if they wish greater participation of Muslim women in the game," Akhtar told the Muslim News.
Law Four, which states a player must not "use equipment or wear anything that is dangerous to himself/herself or another player," has been used by football officials to ban women wearing the hijab while playing.
But Akhtar pointed out that the wearing of the hijab has never presented any safety problems to other FIFA member countries, like Iran, and Jordan.
The Assembly for the Protection of Hijab (APH) also warned that the current stance by IFAB, which has authority over the laws of the game, was in danger of "jeopardizing" FIFA's equal opportunities policy.
"FIFA's fair play aphorism and endorsement of women football would be critically jeopardized if exceptions for religious wear are excluded from its rule book. Nobody should be asked to comprise their faith to participate in sport," an APH spokeswoman said.
She told the Muslim News that the application of the rules must be "unambiguous and consistent," referring to a particular incident when the individual interpretation of referees meant one player was allowed to wear a hijab in a previous match only to be barred in another.
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