French Muslim Footballers Cannot Wear Headscarves, Says Sporting Authority

by
staff
France's soccer federation said it would not allow women to wear Muslim headscarves.

France's soccer federation said it would not allow women to wear Muslim headscarves.

The decision, announced on Friday night, was despite a ruling on Thursday that they could, by the FIFA umbrella organization which sets the rules of the game.

France’s soccer federation’s decision won applauds of French politicians and feminist groups.

The French Football Association said that though it is a member of the FIFA, it, "will not authorize [female] players to wear the scarf." Their decision will apply to those participating in national French selections for international competitions, plus national competitions.

The FFF "needs to respect the constitutional and legal principles of secularism which prevail in our country and which are part of its statutes," said the statement.

Supporters of the FFF's decision here said religion should stay out of sports. "Allowing the headscarf on the fields opens Pandora's Box," conservative UMP deputy, Gérald Darmanin told the French daily Le Figaro. "This kind of decision accentuates divisions between communities," he added.

Others here complained the new ruling could spread to other sports.

"Today it's soccer. Tomorrow it will be swimming," said feminist activist Asma Guenifi, and president of the group, "Ni Putes Ni Soumis" (Neither Whores Nor Submissive) according to Le Figaro. The FIFA decision is a "serious step backwards," she added.

On Thursday the FIFA reversed a ban on the Islamic hijab enforced since 2007, notably because the garment did not provide a safety risk if approved headscarves are used with quick-release fasteners.