Hijab ban sidelines Edmonton soccer team

A Muslim female soccer team in Edmonton has had to postpone all their games until the Alberta Soccer Association makes a final decision on players wearing headscarves on the field.

Half the girls on the Al-Ikhwat team wear a hijab, a headscarf worn by some Muslim females in keeping with their belief of dressing modestly.

The provincial association has temporarily banned players from wearing hijabs on the pitch after a referee asked a 14-year-old girl to leave a game in Calgary last month. He said her headscarf posed a safety risk.

The Alberta Soccer Association follows international rules that forbid all headgear, including sweatbands, but said it will review safety issues before making a final ruling on hijabs.

Amereen Chowdhry, a Grade 12 student who’s played with the team for a year and a half wearing her hijab, says it’s not dangerous. “Talk to us directly. Ask us what it’s like so we can show then that it’s not a dangerous issue. Our hijabs don’t have pins in it and they are tucked into our jersey,” she told CBC News.

The team plays in the Edmonton and District Soccer Association’s indoor league. Mike Thorne, the group’s executive director, said women wearing hijabs have been playing in Edmonton for more than seven years without any problems.

CBC News, 6 December 2007