Referee refuses to officiate French woman's football match where players wore Muslim headscarves


The referee of a woman’s football match on Sunday in the southern French city of Narbonne refused to officiate the game when players for one of the teams took to the pitch wearing Muslim headscarves. 


The incident involved players from Petit-Bard Montpellier, who had been due to play Narbonne in the regional promotional tie. Officials from the Languedoc-Roussillon league must now decide whether to order the match to be replayed or to award a win to Narbonne.

Football’s world governing body, Fifa, banned players from wearing the Islamic headscarf in 2007, claiming it was unsafe. But on 3 March, it accepted in principal that female footballers could wear headscarves when playing in official competitions.

The rule change, instigated by the brother of the King of Jordan, Ali bin al-Hussein who is also Fifa vice president, is due to come into effect on 2 July.

Fifa secretary general, Jerome Vacke, says it will allow woman all over the world to play football. But the change has angered some feminist groups.

Asma Genifi, of the French association, Ni Putes, ni soumises told the daily Aujourd’hui that the headscarf was a sign of male domination.

“It starts with football and ends up including all sports,” she says. “I think Fifa is influenced by intense lobbying from rich Middle Eastern countries, like Qatar.”

Iran’s woman’s team last year forfeited a 2012 Olympic qualifier because players refused to take to the pitch without wearing hijabs.

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