Soccer referee Sarah Benkirane has been told she can no longer work for Quebec's Lac St. Louis Regional Soccer Association because she wears a hijab. The 15-year-old has been refereeing games on Montreal's West Island and Vaudreuil, which is located just off the island, for the past two years but was informed by association officials that she had been cut as a referee because of rules prohibiting religious garments on the pitch.
"I always felt like I was equal growing up in Canada, so I don't understand why they're going to take this right away from me," said Benkirane, who has worn a hijab since she was 12. The teen said a complaint was made to the association, which led to the loss of her summer job.
The Lac St. Louis Regional Soccer Association told CBC it follows the rules laid out by the Quebec Soccer Federation and referred all questions to that group. In a statement released Monday, the Quebec Soccer Federation said it upholds Rule 4 set out by FIFA, the international soccer governing body, which prohibits religious statements in team uniforms.
"The situation is clear," the statement reads. "Wearing a hijab is not allowed on Quebec's soccer fields just as necklaces, earrings, rings are prohibited, and we will follow the rule until FIFA says otherwise."
Read in full HERE.
Oddly enough, some groups that are very (justifiably) irate when the coach of the Nigerian women's football team excluded players suspected of being lesbians on (Christian) religious grounds find it normal that religion be present in women's sport when the religion is Islam. And yet the rules are clear for all; religion has no place on the football pitch. The rules of football are the Law of the Game, not the Koran and not the Christian Bible, either. So we are surprised by this effort to organize protest matches:
Red Card FIFA! Massive Solidarity Soccer Game July 7 2 -3 pm
WHO: Muslim sisters be ready to play soccer in your jerseys and sports attire. Please come in either a white hijab or coloured hijab so we can split into teams. Allies and sisters who choose to not wear hijab, please come in your soccer jerseys, and bring your cheers and chants to support us.
WHY: Girls and women who wear hijab are being sidelined from the soccer field. Globally FIFA has banned the Iranian women’s team from playing for wearing headscarves, and Jordan’s team has also been banned for the same reason. Locally, in the Montreal area, a young woman was recently prevented from refereeing a soccer game while wearing hijab. It is an offense that FIFA and Quebec’s Lac St. Louis Regional Soccer Association are banning women and girls who wear hijab from participating in soccer. We are advocating for the rights of all women to be active, including having the opportunity to participate in organized sports. For many girls and women, playing sports is a way of staying healthy, building self-esteem, and being part of a strong community. No one should be denied these opportunities because of their religious beliefs and practices.
Other ways you can make your voice heard:
1. Write to FIFA and Quebec’s Lac St. Louis Regional Soccer Association to express your support for the right of all women and girls to play soccer, including women who wear hijab. Recently a young woman in Quebec, Sarah Benkirane, was fired from her referee job for wearing a hijab; Jordan and Iran’s female soccer teams cannot play in the FIFA world cup due to this ban. Once you have written, spread the word to friends and family through word of mouth, phone, text and social media.
2. Tweet FIFA at @FIFAcom about the importance of allowing all women and girls to play sports. Use the hash tag #right2wear.
3. Check out our tumblr page at right2wear.tumblr.com, and send us your own stories, pictures and videos about the importance of sports in your life as a Muslim woman, or .
4. Most importantly: Organize a soccer match in your community! Invite Muslim women and girls to get off the sidelines and show that we got game. Allies are welcomed to lead cheers, chants and support us in red carding FIFA’s anti-hijab ruling. Send the information and pictures to us, so we can keep track of what you’ve all been up to.
Right 2 Wear movement wants to challenge people’s obsession with Muslim women and girl’s wardrobes. We are tired of everyone - governments, our families, religious scholars, the justice system, our peers - being obsessed with what we wear. Muslim women and girls have the right to choose how we outwardly express our faith and religion. We have the right to wear what we please!
Sorry, but no, you do not "have the rightr to wear what [you] please". You are playing a sport, the sport has rules as to what players wear, and your invocation of your religion has no place in sport. You're free to play wherever and however you want in whatever gear you want, for example in these protest matches, but you can't be part of the international sports movement if you reject its rules. That's not fair play.
And if there is an "obsession" with what you wear, it seems to be yours. All you have to do is follow the rules. It's not that hard. And perhaps you could devote some of your energy to working toward the freedom of Maryam Majd, arrested by the Islamist regime in Iran for, among other things, supporting the right of women to play football... and even to watch it (because those protest matches of yours could not be shown in many Islamist countries, due to the presence of women without hijabs).
If you support the right of women to participate in sport free from religious pressure, write to FIFA on this page: fifa.com/contact/form.html and while you're at it, ask FIFA to take action to free Maryam Majd.
|7-9 September 2012|
Brussels Gay Sports will offer a weekend of fun and fairplay in the capital of Europe, with volleyball, swimming, badminton, and tennis, as well as fitness and hiking.
Learn more HERE.
|26-28 October 2012|
The success of the first edition of the QueergamesBern proved the need for an LGBT multisport event in Switzerland. This year will be even bigger, with badminton, bowling, running, walking, floorball.
Learn more HERE.
|17-20 January 2013|
Sin City Shootout
The 7th Sin City Shootout will feature softball, ice hockey, tennis, wrestling, basketball, dodgeball, bodybuilding and basketball.
Learn more HERE.
|13-16 June 2013|
IGLFA Euro Cup
After this year's edition in Budapest at the EuroGames, the IGLFA Euro Cup heads to Dublin for 2013, hosted by the Dublin Devils and the Dublin Phoenix Tigers.
Learn more HERE.