The Gazette, 2/27/07

It’s extraordinary the fuss that can be stirred up when too little information meets too many preconceptions.

On Sunday, a soccer referee ordered Asmahan Mansour, an 11-year-old sixth-grader from Ontario, to remove her hijab or scarf, calling it “a physical threat” to others playing in a junior indoor tournament in Laval.

In protest, her coach pulled the team, the Nepean Hotspurs Selects, from the meet, and other Ontario teams followed suit.

Quebec soccer officials supported the ref, saying his hands were tied by FIFA, soccer’s world governing body, which regulates on-field attire. Jewellery, for instance, is banned.

Quebec Soccer Federation general manager Brigitte Frot told The Gazette that FIFA regulations specifically prohibit headgear of any kind and, hence, the ref’s decision was right.

News reports then weighed in asserting FIFA rules prohibit any form of religious garb. The story climbed the news-cycle ladder until even Premier Jean Charest got involved, opining the official’s hands were tied.

Not so fast. Head gear is specifically allowed by FIFA. You can confirm this for yourself ( www.fifa.com/en/laws/Laws4_01.htm).

Nowhere does FIFA’s code even mention religious head dress. And the relevant section of FIFA Law 4 states “modern protective equipment such as headgear, facemasks, knee and arm protectors made of soft, lightweight, padded material are not considered to be dangerous and are, therefore, permitted.”


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