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AFC chief seeks Blatter’s support in Hijab issue

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MUMBAI: The Asian Football Confederation (AFC) has sought FIFA president Sepp Blatter’s support in overturning the ban on the hijab when rule makers review the decision on Saturday.

In a letter written to the FIFA boss, AFC acting president Zhang Jilong pitched for a favourable reconsideration of the issue when it is reviewed by the International Football Association Board (IFAB) in London.

“It is our beholden duty to make the game accessible to everyone across the globe and I request you to throw your weight behind this righteous cause,” China’s Zhang wrote. While Olympic sports such as rugby and taekwondo allow Muslim women to wear the headscarf in competition, football remains against its use, citing safety concerns.

Last year the women’s football team from Iran were prevented from playing their 2012 Olympic second round qualifying match against Jordan because they refused to remove their hijabs before kick-off. Iran, who had topped their group in the first round of Olympic qualifiers after going undefeated, were given 3-0 defeats as a penalty which abruptly ended their dreams of qualifying for the London Olympics.

IFAB, founded in 1886, is football’s ultimate law-making body comprising four members from FIFA and four from the British associations.