International football authorities are increasingly giving mixed signals about whether hijab should be accepted on the pitch.
Ansar Women’s FC, Scotland’s first female Muslim football team, has had to re-address their hopes of being admitted into the Scottish Women’s Football Association league in the future, after contradicting tones from the International Football Association Board (IFAB).
The team’s coach and a Glasgow based sports worker, Zubair Malik, told The Muslim News, “The IFAB say it’s to do with safety. The FA in England is saying there are new types of hijab that adhere to safety rules. I personally don’t see a safety problem with hijab.”
FIFA members, Iran and Jordan amongst others, have reported no cases of safety issues with the headscarf.
The girls in the team, of ages ranging from 11 to 18, are currently doing well in domestic football and are hoping to enter the league competitions when they are ready. Malik added, “The girls have been playing for a few years now. We’ve played a few friendlies against local teams, and we’ve done really well. It’s not great, but it’s a start.”
The Executive Administrator for Scottish Women’s Football, Maureen McGonigle, has been supporting Ansar Women’s FC in continuing their training. Malik said, “She has been encouraging us, and she wants us to enter the Scottish league. She told us not to be put off by the IFAB rulings.”
McGonigle affirmed that all female footballers are supported regardless of race, religion or background.
Despite these positive sentiments, she emphasized that her organization has no say on the decisions. She told The Muslim News, “We have to abide by FIFA’s rules and regulations…It’s up to us to look at what the rules are and we’ve got to tell people ‘here are the rules’ and they will decide if they want to join us.”