Sikh, Muslim and Jewish soccer players — as well as any others whose religions encourage covering one’s head — can now wear their respective turbans, hijabs and yarmulkes during matches. FIFA, world soccer’s governing body, authorized the move after a two-year trial period and just in time for the men’s 2014 World Cup, which starts this June. The new rule applies to both male and female players (the next women’s World Cup is in 2015) and takes effect June 1.
FIFA made the announcement on March 1. The Iranian women’s national team gainedwidespread attention in 2011 after a FIFA official would not allow them to take the field in an Olympic qualifying match against Jordan because players were wearing white hijabs, the traditional head covering worn by Muslim women. FIFA’s previous ban on religious headwear was enforced in leagues below the international or top club levels as well. In 2012, Sikh players in Canada protested a junior-league that wouldn’t allow them to play in turbans. But, while FIFA giveth, FIFA taketh as well. The same day it allowed religious head coverings, it also announced that players who display messages on T-shirts worn beneath their jerseys will now be subject to unspecified sanctions. That means no more statements like this one from Côte d’Ivoire’s Didier Drogba last December… see more