Story highlights

The hijab, or headscarf, was banned from play in 2007

Soccer's rules makers decide to allow them

An estimated 29 million women and girls play soccer worldwide

CNN  — 

Soccer’s rule-makers have lifted a controversial ban on headscarves, clearing the way for Muslim women to compete in international matches.

Soccer’s governing body, FIFA, banned the wearing of a headscarf or hijab on the field of play in 2007 out of safety concerns and extended the safety rule to include neck warmers, or snoods, in July 2011.

Thursday’s decision by FIFA and the International Football Association Board will allow women throughout the Muslim world to take the field with their heads covered.

The design, color and style of the headscarf will be determined this fall, said FIFA Secretary-General Jerome Valcke.

Zhang Jilong, acting president of the Asian Football Confederation, had asked the International Football Association Board to review the ban.

“I would like to request the IFAB to favorably consider FIFA’s proposal and review the rule and allow women players to play wearing a safe headscarf that covers the neck,” Jilong said earlier this year.

Jilong said new headscarf designs make safety far less an issue.

“I have personally seen the new designs with a Velcro joined at the neck, which releases if the headscarf is pulled, ensuring the player’s safety,” Jilong said.

More than 29 million women and girls play soccer worldwide, according to FIFA.