FIFA allows players to wear head covers for religious purposes
FIFA Secretary General Jerome Valcke holds the book 'Laws of the Game' as he speaks during a press conference following the 128 Annual General Meeting of the International Football Association Board IFAB, on Saturday, March 1, 2014, in Zurich, Switzerland. (AP / Steffen Schmidt)
Corinne Ton That, CTVNews.ca
Published Saturday, March 1, 2014 11:45AM EST
Last Updated Saturday, March 1, 2014 3:07PM EST
FIFA has officially authorized soccer players to wear head covers for religious purposes during its matches.
The decision was made Saturday following a meeting of the International Football Association Board in Zurich, and will apply to both male and female players.
The wearing of head covers was previously banned by FIFA, with the organization saying they posed a risk of injury to the head or neck.
The ruling was modified, however, after a two-year trial period that started in 2012 proved successful.
“It was decided that female players can cover their heads to play,” said FIFA secretary general Jerome Valcke at the IFAB meeting.
Male players will also be allowed to wear head covers, following a request from the Canadian Sikh community to lift the ban on turbans.
“Male players can play with head covers too,” Valcke said. “It will be a basic head cover and the colour should be the same as the team jersey.”
A decision by the Quebec Soccer Federation to ban turbans on the soccer pitch had outraged the Canadian Sikh community last June.
The QSF lifted the ban only after receiving word from FIFA that male players were allowed to wear head covers, as the two-year trial period was already in effect.
Speaking after Saturday's ruling, a QSF spokesperson said the agency was satisfied with the decision and plan to follow the rules.
"All we've wanted, for years, is to have a clear position (from FIFA) and rules to follow, and now we know what to do, and we'll do it," Michel Dugas told The Canadian Press.
IFAB members also voted Saturday to tighten laws on players who display messages, images or slogans on their undershirts, as part of changes to Law 4 of the game, which relates to soccer players’ equipment.