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  • Hijab Approval; SportAccord Firsts; Japanese Rider, 70, Qualifies for 2012 Olympics


    03/05/12

    Warm Welcome for Hijab Approval

    Asian football leaders are welcoming the International Football Association Board's decision to remove the ban on female footballers wearing the Islamic headscarf on the field of play.
    Zhang Jilong said IFAB's decision "will remove all barriers and bring more women players into the game." (Getty Images)

    IFAB's eight members, who include representatives from FIFA and the four British football associations, unanimously approved the lifting of the hijab ban "pending an accelerated review, of health and safety issues" at a meeting in London on Saturday. This followed a high-profile campaign to scrap the ban led by FIFA vice president Prince Ali Bin Al Hussein.

    Final ratification will take place on July 2 after further testing of the new hijab designs to ensure they are safe. FIFA had previously banned hijabs because of fears raised about choking.

    "I thank the IFAB for doing the right thing," acting Asian Football Confederation president Zhang Jilong said in a statement. 

    Prince Ali of Jordan launched his campaign to overturn the law on hijabs last year when members of Iran’s women’s team were prevented from playing in a 2012 Olympic qualification match for wearing a headscarf.

    "I am confident that once the final ratification in the July Special Meeting of IFAB takes place, we will see many delighted and happy players returning to the football field and playing the game that they love," he said.

    Football's lawmakers also backed the use of goal-line technology at the meeting.

    Of the eight goal-line technology systems included in the first phase of testing in November and December, two companies were approved to take part in the second stage. Hawk-Eye uses optical recognition with cameras while GoalRef utilizes a magnetic field with a special ball to identify a goal situation.

    The second test phase between March and June will "rigorously assess the reliability and accuracy of each system, as well as how robust the technology is," IFAB said.

    Should one or both companies fulfill the criteria, a special IFAB meeting in Kiev on July 2 will decide whether to introduce goal-line technology into the game.

    For more coverage of the IFAB meeting, visit Around the Rings sister site World Football INSIDER.

    Japanese Rider, 70, Qualifies for 2012

    Hiroshi Hoketsu will appear in Games five decades apart should he ride at London 2012.
    Hiroshi Hoketsu rides "Whisper" at the Beijing Olympics. (Getty Images)

    The two-time Olympian, 70, qualified by winning an international dressage event last week in France.

    According to an Associated Press report, Japanese equestrian officials are expected to announce soon whether he will compete this summer at the age of 71.

    Hoketsu finished 40th in show jumping at Tokyo 1964, then ninth in team dressage and 35th in individual dressage at Beijing 2008, where he was the seniormost athlete at the Games.

    The oldest Olympian ever – and oldest to medal – is Swedish shooter Oscar Swahn, who won silver at Antwerp 1920 at age 72.

    The span of 48 years between Hoketsu’s first Olympic appearance and London 2012 is believed to be a record-in-waiting should he head to London.

    Jet Lag Concerns for FIBA Qualifying

    Point guard Alexey Shved is worried about how jet lag will impact Russia’s chances at basketball’s Olympic qualifying tournament in Venezuela.
    Alexey Shved (left) runs the point for both CSKA Moscow and Russia's international team. (Getty Images)

    “Of course we’ll try. But flying for 15 hours changes your whole schedule. It’s very difficult,” he was quoted Monday by RIA Novosti.

    “We’ve had practically no rest since the European championships. We’ll play out the season, then again training camps and a tournament on the other side of the world.”

    After falling to France in the Eurobasket semis last September, Russia must compete in Caracas for one of the last three spots left at London 2012. Eastern European rivals Macedonia, Lithuania and Greece are also among the 11 teams bound for South America in July.

    “It was completely mystifying,” Shved said of FIBA’s decision to host the tourney in Venezuela over other bids from Lithuania, Macedonia and Angola.

    “A long-haul flight, big time difference. Everyone thought that the qualification tournament would be in Lithuania.”

    The other teams in the bracket are Jordan, Puerto Rico, Nigeria, Dominican Republic, Korea, Angola, New Zealand and Venezuela.

    SportAccord Firsts

    Boules, sambo and savate are among the sports that will be on display at SportAccord’s first-ever Demo Zone.
    Boules involves tossing large metal balls as close to a small wooden ball as possible. (Getty Images)

    Athletes from bodybuilding, curling, cycling, fencing, judo, modern pentathlon, softball, squash, table tennis, triathlon, volleyball as well as waterski and wakeboard will also perform in the space sponsored by the city of Edmonton.

    Another first for the May 20-25 gathering in Quebec City is the so-called IF Zone, where the international federations for baseball, cricket, karate, minigolf, orienteering, rugby and others will welcome delegates and exhibit their work.

    “The international federations will be more high-profile, more involved and easier to engage with during this year’s event than ever before,” SportAccord Convention executive director Anna Hellman said in a statement.

    “We have created the Sport Demo Zone and the IF Zone to give federations greater visibility and encourage delegates to connect with them.”

    Written by Mark Bisson and Matthew Grayson.

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