FIFA's hijab ban reversal good news for local designer
Published Thursday, July 5, 2012 6:46PM EDT
Last Updated Thursday, July 5, 2012 8:22PM EDT
MONTREAL - Many Montrealers are hailing a FIFA decision to overturn a ban on religious headscarves worn by some Muslim soccer players.
The International Football Association Board changed the rules after considering a recommendation from FIFA’s medical officer. They are now convinced that the wearing of hijabs does not necessarily constitute a danger to players.
One woman celebrating the decision is a Montrealer who has designed a hijab now in the running to be chosen as FIFA's standard model.
Elham Seyed Javad’s special design is made of a lightweight, elastic fabric called Cool Max.
The scarf is secured in place with magnets and comes off safely with the slightest tug. If pulled off, another cap remains underneath, so the hair does not get exposed.
She designed the garment in hopes of encouraging religious Muslims who choose to wear the headscarf to get into the sport, something they had been prevented from doing in Quebec and elsewhere due to the ban.
“The idea is to give them the power to feel confident as a woman and to go out and be active,” said Javad.
She is elated that the safety argument has been taken out of play.
“The fact that they're saying the security issue is no longer the issue is very encouraging because they're seeing the designs and saying the security issue has been solved."
Javad, who has a degree in Industrial Design from the Universite de Montreal, hopes her design catches on and sells around the world.
“Yes for sure that is like a huge dream. That's something I wish for,” she said.
Last May Javad was asked to show the design to Jordanian Prince Ali in Zurich, who also serves as a FIFA executive.
“The whole thing went very well we did very nice presentations,” she said.
The other model for consideration is fastened by velcro. It's unclear whether FIFA will sanction one or the other or both.
The hijab ban has led to controversy in Quebec, where a 15-year-old referee was ordered off the field last year after being told that her religious symbols do not belong on the pitch.
But the Quebec Soccer Federation now says that the decision makes their policy easier to set.
“There was confusion,” said Michel Dugas, of the Quebec Soccer Association. “Canadian soccer associations let it go sometimes and nobody really knows what to do with this rule, so we are happy to know it will be okay.”
But the exact hijab model that will be permitted on the field will only be announced in October, and Dugas admitted that the group still has not devised a policy to ascertain the safety element of various headscarves worn by players.
“This is tricky, I don’t really know what to do between now and October,” he said.