FIFA panel approves Islamic headscarves for women

ZURICH (AP) — Soccer's rules-making approved headscarves for female Muslim players on Thursday, reversing a ban on the Islamic hijab that was enforced in FIFA competitions for five years.

The panel, known as IFAB, gave its approval to the headscarves after FIFA's medical committee decided two scarf designs submitted to its experts do not threaten the safety of female players. The approved designs use quick-release velcro fasteners and magnets.

Soccer prohibits equipment that is dangerous or makes religious statements. Headscarves have been banned on the soccer field since 2007.

FIFA vice president Prince Ali of Jordan led a yearlong campaign to overturn the ban and allow Muslim women to play the game. Two Islamic countries make the headscarf mandatory for women in public — Iran and Saudi Arabia.

Last year, Iran forfeited London Olympics qualifiers because the team's players were not allowed to play with headscarves.