The first footballer to wear a hijab at a senior-level global tournament was today part of the Morocco team that took on France, whose football federation bans players from wearing headscarves.
The round-of-16 clash between Group F winners, France and underdogs, Morocco, took place on Tuesday afternoon, with France winning 4-0.
France will now advance to the quarter finals of the Women’s World Cup and will take on Australia on Saturday.
Two weeks ago, Morocco defender Nouhaila Benzina made history as the first player to wear a hijab while competing at a senior-level Women’s World Cup.
France’s football federation however bans its players from wearing headscarves and other religious symbols in official matches, as well as at competitions it organises.
The ban is not in line with Fifa’s rules.
A Fifa ban on playing in religious head coverings in its sanctioned games for “health and safety reasons” was overturned in 2014 after advocacy from activists, athletes and government and football officials.
“I have no doubt that more and more women and Muslim girls will look at Benzina and just really be inspired – not just the players, but I think decision makers, coaches, other sports as well,” said Assmaah Helal, a co-founder of the Muslim Women in Sports Network.
In June, France’s highest administrative court upheld a ban on women football players wearing religious clothing.
The French federation said the ruling gave it the opportunity to “reaffirm the republican and civic values that underpin soccer, and its total commitment to combatting all forms of discrimination and promoting gender equality.”
The Council of State issued its ruling after a group of headscarf-wearing football players called Les Hijabeuses campaigned against the ban and launched legal action.
French Interior Minister Gerard Darmanin defended the ban and said that when athletes play football “you don’t need to know the religion of the person in front of you”.