With headscarf controversy settled, Iranian girls focus on soccer at Youth Olympics

The Iranian girls soccer team can concentrate on winning matches at the Youth Olympics now that the controversy over their headscarves has been settled.

The Iranians lost to Turkey in their opening match on Thursday but have a chance for a victory in the six-nation tournament against Papua New Guinea on Sunday.

The compromise outfit consists of a cap, long-sleeved tops, below-knee trousers and long stockings. The new white apparel was created by Iranian designers and has red-and-green details in the colors of the Iranian flag.

FIFA had banned the traditional hijab headscarves worn by Islamic girls and women in 2007 for safety reasons and to prevent political or religious statements on the field.

But even the new outfit has angered some in Iran.

It was unveiled last month during a practice session, prompting Marzieh Akbarabadi, who is in charge of all women's sports in Iran, to storm off in protest. She called the new uniform inappropriate though she did not elaborate on what aspect of the uniform she was against.

Under the country's strict Islamic regulations, women must cover themselves head-to-toe, although they are allowed to show their faces.

FIFA President Sepp Blatter was on hand to watch the Iranian game. He said afterward that he was pleased the team made the trip to Singapore to participate in the Youth Olympics.

"It's very important," Blatter said. "It's very important for football, that football be played by and in all cultures. Especially at this level of the youths, and the Olympic idea, I think it's very important."