Soccer Regulators Give Hijab Red Card

The expulsion of a Canadian Muslim footballer from a match for wearing hijab has taken a dramatic and global dimension

Soccer Regulators Give Hijab Red Card
The expulsion of a Canadian Muslim footballer from a match for wearing hijab has taken a dramatic and global dimension after the game's ultimate regulators backed the decision, Canada's The Gazette daily reported on Sunday, March 4.

"It's absolutely right to be sensitive to people's thoughts and philosophies," Brian Barwick, a member of the International Football Association Board (IFAB), the guardian of the Laws of the Game, said after a meeting on Saturday, March 3.

"But, equally, there has to be a set of laws that are adhered to - and we favor Law 4 being adhered to."

The fourth rule lists the items a player is entitled to wear and makes no reference to head covers.

It also stipulates that "a player must not use equipment or wear anything that is dangerous to himself or any other player."

Last week, a Canadian referee ejected 11-year-old Asmahan Mansour during a National game for wearing the hijab on safety and security grounds.

The Quebec Soccer Federation insisted the referee was enforcing international guidelines regarding equipment and safety rules.

IFAB, which administers the rules for the Federation Internationale de Football Association (FIFA), ruled that the referee made the correct decision.

"If you play football, there's a set of laws and rules. Law 4 outlines basic equipment," Barwick said.

FIFA also weighed in.

"The wearing of a hijab is already covered by Law 4 on Players' Equipment," it said in a news release following IFAB's meeting.

Until last week, FIFA's position was somehow different.

FIFA official Nicholas Maing had told The Gazette that "there is nothing prohibiting hijab" in the laws of the game.

He cited how goalkeepers are allowed to wear protective caps and head guards. tried to contact the FIFA media office for clarification, but no one was answering the phone.

Legal Action

The IFAB's position drew immediate fire and threats of legal actions.

"I think this is something that needs to be taken up with the United Nations in terms of human rights violations," Anisa Ali of the United Muslim Women of Canada told CTV Newsnet on Saturday.

She warned that banning hijab in sports "sends a very negative view, especially to young women, who wish to participate in athletic activities."

"We, as Muslim women, have a right to participate in sporting activities just like non-Muslim women."

Islam sees hijab as an obligatory code of dress, not a religious symbol displaying one's affiliations.

Ali asserted that her group would take legal action as soon as possible.

The FIFA's ruling would likely have a far-reaching implications for Muslim women footballers and could trigger similar problems for Muslim female athletes practicing other sports.



"The people paying for the confusion are the children," Maneiro said.  

The ruling stirred even more furor in the French-speaking Canadian province where the controversy began, with many condemning the unreasonable ban.

"It wasn't right what happened to Azzy (Asmahan). And with this ruling, I guess it can happen again to another player," said Louis Maneiro, the coach of the young Muslim athlete.

Maneiro, who coaches the under-12 girls team Nepean Hotspur Selects, said he wasn't buying the argument that hijab poses a threat on the playground.

"I had hoped the (IFAB) would clarify the rules. Because right now, there is a lot of interpretation on what is appropriate and what isn't," he insisted.

"The people paying for the confusion are the children."

Supporting their Muslim teammate, the players of the Nepean Hotspurs Selects walked off the field at the Canadian indoor championship when Asmahan was ejected.

The girl's family also lamented the unfair decision, saying they hoped the IFAB would have showed more sensitivity.

"The hijab is part of her religion," Asmahan's father, Youssef Mansour, said.

He affirmed the hijab was never a stumble for his daughter's participation in any sport.

"There was no problem before. She has played lots of sports and suddenly this comes out of nowhere."

Güncelleme Tarihi: 20 Eylül 2018, 18:16