x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 21 July 2017

The game's the winner

The introduction of goal-line technology and the removal of the ban on women competitors wearing the hijab are overdue advances in interational football.

Of the many accusations levelled at the authorities governing football over the years, one is certainly true: they have been very slow to embrace change. Yet the past few days have seen two decisions that, while overdue, are very welcome.

The headline-grabber has been that Fifa has acknowledged the effectiveness of goal-line technology and will introduce it at the Club World Cup in Japan in December, other tournaments next year, and the 2014 World Cup. It's a smart move, even though it provides no consolation to the many teams that have been disadvantaged by bad refereeing decisions over the years.

An even more significant sign of the times is the decision by the International Football Association Board, comprising members of Fifa and the four UK football associations, to lift the ban on women wearing the hijab in competition. This comes after a long campaign by Prince Ali Bin Al Hussein of Jordan, who has proven the effectiveness of new materials that allay fears of the headscarf causing neck injuries when pulled.

This is a victory for common sense: women who have the desire and talent to represent their countries at the highest level will no longer be discriminated against on the basis of their traditions and beliefs.