The highest court in France has ruled that the country’s soccer federation has the authority to prohibit the wearing of hijabs, despite acknowledging that this measure restricts freedom of expression. A collective of female football players known as “Les Hijabeuses” challenged the ban through a legal action, resulting in a decision by the Council of State that is likely to reignite the ongoing debate on secularism in France.
According to the court’s ruling, sports federations have the right to require their players to wear neutral attire during sporting competitions and events to ensure the smooth progress of matches and prevent conflicts or confrontations. The court deems the ban imposed by the French Football Federation (FFF) as suitable and proportionate.
BREAKING🚨 France's Top Court Upholds Hijab Ban in Women's Football:
The decision comes after the
French Football Federation
(FFF) implemented a regulation prohibiting any signs or clothing that display political, philosophical, religious, or union affiliations during play. pic.twitter.com/ABvOWBmpUq
— OSINT Updates 🚨 (@OsintUpdates) June 29, 2023
The FFF prohibits players from wearing hijabs and other religious symbols in matches and any competitions it organizes, going against the recommendations of FIFA, which permits players to compete at the international level while wearing head coverings.
The ruling is seen as an opportunity to “reassert the republican and civic values that form the foundation of soccer and its unwavering commitment to combating discrimination in all forms and promoting gender equality,” stated the France federation.
It is possible that the ban will be enforced during the upcoming Paris Olympics in the following year, as the court stated that federations are entitled to establish the participation rules for their events.
#WIONFineprint | 'Will do everything to make sure matches run smoothly'
— WION (@WIONews) June 29, 2023
“The rules of participation laid down by these federations may limit (the players’) freedom of expression of their opinions and convictions in order to guarantee the proper functioning of the public service. You don’t wear religious clothes when you play sports. When you play soccer, you don’t need to know the religion of the person in front of you.” – the Court said.