Afghanistan unveils soccer kit with hijab

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Danish sportswear brand Hummel has unveiled its new jersey for the Afghanistan national soccer team, complete with a hijab for female players.

Revealed to the public on International Women’s Day, the new red kit includes an integrated base layer which allows women to be covered from head to toe when they take to the pitch.

Football’s global governing body FIFA lifted its ban on head covers in 2014, provided it is not attached to the shirt and is also the same color.

“We don’t sponsor the biggest teams in the world, but we make partnerships with teams and clubs with a story to tell, like Afghanistan,” said Hummel owner Christian Stadil on the company’s website. “We try to meet the Afghan people where they are and, right now, that is by helping the women play football with or without a hijab.”

Khalida Popal captained the Afghan women’s team before having to retire due to a knee injury and has become a role model for aspiring female players in the war-torn country.

“The national team shirt symbolizes all of our culture, our tradition, our history. To wear that shirt and to lead your country out onto the football pitch is something that stays with you forever,” Popal said. “It was a huge honor to captain my country, but it was an even bigger honor to be seen as a role model and an inspiration for thousands of young girls and women in Afghanistan. I think the Afghanistan women’s team shows the huge potential football has as a unifying force. I like to think that we have given a lot of women in our country fresh hope.”

On the new jersey, Popal added: “I have been involved in the consultation for the design of the shirt pretty much from the outset.”

“I wanted something that reflected the strength of the Afghan character and incorporated the very best of the country’s traditions and heritage,” Popal said. “I think this shirt has achieved both.”

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