Girl sent off for wearing hijab

One of Victoria's most promising young women soccer players was told she could not play for her team unless she removed her Islamic head scarf.

Afifa Saad, who has tried out for the Victorian team, always plays for the South Melbourne Women's Soccer Club wearing her white head scarf and long track pants, in accordance with her religion.

Yesterday, at a game between South Melbourne and Keilor Park WSC, the referee told her she had to remove her scarf or she couldn't play.

Afifa refused and after a delay the game was postponed.

The Victorian Soccer Federation (VSF) has now launched an investigation into the incident and referee development manager Chris Bambridge today said the referee could face disciplinary action.

The VSF would also look into whether the referee, who had about 12 years of experience, had breached anti-discrimination laws.

"We will be investigating that as part of the ongoing investigation once we have received the referee's report," he said.

He said the Muslim head scarfs were not against any of the rules of the game.

"There is nothing in the rules of the VSF, there is nothing in the laws of the game that particularly addresses head gear, such as the hijab," he said.

"It is seen, I believe, by FIFA who are the controlling body that it is an acceptable piece of headwear as long as there are no pins or anything that constitutes a danger to the player herself."

The VSF's sports services manager Leslie Burrows said Afifa would be given a chance to tell her side of the story.

"We have met with her briefly today... we will be getting more information from her later today," she said.

The referee had eventually agreed that Afifa could play with her scarf on, she said, but the game had been delayed for more than 15 minutes which meant it had to be postponed.

Ms Burrows said the report into the incident would be made public within a week and that the VSF was keen to clear the air and get on with promoting women's soccer.

"Afifa has been a fantastic role model for young women who want to play soccer," she said.

"There's been many reports on Afifa and we have had many girls start the game because they realise Afifa was able to play as well."

Ms Burrows said Afifa did not want to speak to the media but had said she would continue playing in the competition.

Afifa, who plays either as a striker or goalkeeper, had enjoyed the full support of her team-mates and the players from Keilor Park WSC, she said.