Action – Ask FIFA to Clarify Hijab Stance

Action – Ask FIFA to Clarify Hijab Stance

In the Name of God, the Compassionate, the Merciful


CAIR-CAN says headscarf ban will drive Muslim women away from soccer

(Ottawa, Canada – Mar 5, 2007) – The Canadian Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-CAN) today called on the International Football Association Board (FIFA), soccer’s top decision-making body, to clarify its position on the right of women players to wear a religiously-mandated headscarf, or hijab.

Over the weekend, FIFA board members backed a Quebec referee’s controversial decision to prevent an 11-year-old girl from taking part in a match while wearing hijab. Her team, and others in the tournament, walked out in protest. While the board backed the referee’s decision, it stopped short of issuing a clear ruling on the issue of Muslim players wearing hijab.

SEE: Soccer Rulers Waffle on Hijab Issue (Toronto Star)

SEE ALSO: CAIR-CAN Applauds Support for Muslim Soccer Player

“By avoiding a clear ruling on this important issue, FIFA is creating a situation in which Muslim parents in Canada and worldwide may feel reluctant to have their daughters play soccer,” said CAIR-CAN Executive Director Karl Nickner.

“For decades women have struggled to have equal opportunity and treatment on the playing field. In remaining ambiguous on the question of hijab and backing the Quebec referee’s decision, FIFA has effectively blocked millions of women from playing the sport,” said Sarah Elgazzar, CAIR-CAN spokeswoman.

“On the one hand, FIFA promotes soccer amongst women by featuring hijab-clad players on their website; on the other, they have given free rein to individual referees to allow or prohibit the hijab. This situation is untenable,” she added.

Nickner said CAIR-CAN is available to help resolve any perceived safety issues related to hijab through creative solutions such as Velcro fasteners on the player’s scarf.

CAIR-CAN is asking people of conscience around the world to contact FIFA and ask that the organization clarify its position on hijab.


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CONTACT: Sarah Elgazzar, CAIR-CAN Spokeswoman at 514.776.6566, Sameer Zuberi, CAIR-CAN Communications Coordinator at 613.795.2012, or Karl Nickner, CAIR-CAN Executive Director at 613.254.9704 or 613.853.4111


Council on American-Islamic Relations
453 New Jersey Avenue, S.E.
Washington, D.C. 20003
Tel: 202-488-8787, 202-744-7726
Fax: 202-488-0833


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