Muslim women footballers in France campaign against hijab ban in competitions

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L’Équipe report that group of Paris-based Muslim women footballers known as Les Hijabeuses have lodged an appeal to France’s State Council to be allowed to play whilst wearing a hijab in competitions.

The group, founded in July 2020, has been campaigning in favour of modifying or abolishing part of Article 1 of the FFF (French Football Federation) regulation, which bans “the carrying of signs or clothing which ostensibly shows religious affiliation”.

The International Football Association Board allows for a head covering to be worn should it not present any danger to “the player wearing it or to others”. This rule stems from a change in regulation which saw the hijab officially allowed in 2012 by FIFA, notably after Prince Ali bin Hussain of Jordan, at the time vice-president of FIFA, argued that it was a “cultural” symbol rather than a “religious” one. This allowed for the wearing of the garment to circumvent the IFAB’s law banning any political, religious or personal slogans, messages or symbols. 

The FFF has based its reasoning on a principle of “neutrality”, notably from the aforementioned IFAB law, as well as the French state’s own laws on secularism (laïcité), which date back to 1905. The Hijabeuses’ case, as detailed by their legal representative Marion Ogier, rests in particular on an argument that the “FFF should not have the power to impose in an absolute manner a principle neutrality on its users”.

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