Sportswear Brand Introduces Soccer Jersey With Attachable Hijab

In honor of International Women’s Day, Danish sportswear brand Hummel took a step towards both religious freedom and gender equality. On Tuesday, Hummel introduced the first soccer jersey with an integrated hijab for the Afghanistan women’s soccer team, following the brand’s mission statement to “Change the World through Sport.”

Just two years ago, FIFA approved of players wearing religious head coverings during games, and Hummel took it to a whole new level. This new jersey will keep the Afghan female players covered and comfortable while on the field, if they choose to wear it.

In a video, Hummel’s owner, Christian Stadil, discussed why he wanted to create a fashionable sports hijab for the women in Afghanistan, saying, ”If you want to create positive change, you have to meet people as well as nations and cultures, where they are.” Stadil chose to sponsor Afghanistan because, “It’s very difficult for us to find another place in the world where there’s such a big need for something positive.”

Former captain of the Afghan soccer team, Khalida Popal, teamed up with Hummel and the Afghanistan Football Federation to develop the jersey. Popal’s goal when she started playing soccer was to work for women’s equality, saying, “Football wasn’t only a game for me, it was like a tool to empower women.”

President of Hummel Sport USA, Jeff Duback, told Refinery29 why it's difficult for some in the USA to understand the setbacks Khalida has faced as an Afghan athlete.

"As a heritage brand, we feel it's our responsibility to try to make it easier for athletes to play the sports we love and that make us feel alive. In Khalida's case, and designing a soccer kit with a hijab, we have started a discussion worldwide that's needed to happen. Women can choose to wear the hijab or not, and Hummel is charged with changing the world through sport. Bringing this back to the US, this shines a spotlight on something we take for granted--the freedom to play the sports we love," says Duback.

As for the design of the shirt, Popal said in a statement released on Hummel’s site that, “The national team shirt symbolizes all of our culture, our tradition, our history,” directly incorporating the country’s heritage through patterns and designs, while also reflecting the beautiful Afghan mountains. Paul Fitzgerald, Hummel’s designer, said, “The very fabric of Afghanistan’s history is carved into those mountains.” Afghan calligraphy, jewelry-making and wood carvings also played a key role in the final jersey design.

Check out the new Afghanistan team’s jersey’s on Hummel’s site, currently being sold in White and True Red.

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