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Thursday, December 29, 2011

FIFA approves violation of its own rules to support religious oppression of women athletes

Ligue du droit international des femmes

6 Place Saint Germain des Prés
75006 Paris

48 avenue du Général Leclerc
92240, L’Hay-les-Roses

Coordination française pour le Lobby européen des femmes
6 rue de la Rochefoucauld
75009, Paris

Mister Joseph S. Blatter, President
Fédération Internationale de Football Association
FIFA strasse 20
PO BOX 8044
Zurich, Switzerland

Paris, December 21, 2011

Subject: Wearing the hijab on the pitch
Reference: Executive Committee meeting in Tokyo (16-17/12/2011)

Mister President:

We are disappointed and deeply concerned to hear that FIFA - in view of the London 2012 Olympics – has endorsed a proposal to lift the ban on women players wearing a hijab on the pitch (1).

To accept a special dress code for women athletes not only introduces discrimination among athletes but is contrary to the rules governing sport movement, setting a same dress code for all athletes without regard to origin or belief.

FIFA rules bear no ambiguity: “The basic compulsory equipment must not contain any political, religious or personal statements” (law 4). Neither does the Olympic Charter: « No kind of demonstration or political, religious or racial propaganda is permitted in any Olympic site, venues or other areas » (rule 51).

The motives for FIFA reversal are not acceptable. It is now alleged that hijab may be accepted as a “cultural rather than a religious symbol” and therefore does not any longer contradict the rule.

FIFA is therefore accepting the recommendation of the workshop that took place in Amman last October, under prince Ali Bin Al-Hussein’s authority (the brother of the king of Jordan) and FIFA Vice-President, in order to satisfy the most conservative Islamic states.

To pretend that hijab is a cultural and not a religious symbol is not only preposterous, but untrue as the picture below shows very well.

You neither can put aside the fact that the conflict that has opposed FIFA to the Iranian regime is linked to Tehran’s will to impose its own religious law (2) to women’s sport.

Ms Farida Shojaee,vice-president of the women’s department of the Iranian Football Federation, who now pretends that hijab is a cultural sign, claimed not long ago that :“FIFA officials have mistaken the religious hijab for national dress, claiming that if they were allowed to participate with Islamic hijab, other participants might also demand to appear in their respective traditional costumes » ( April 5, 2010, Duncan Mackay, Inside the Games).

You cannot have missed that the “Accept and Respect Declaration” (3) focuses on the ‘Islamic dress code’ and has been issued by groups advocating a change in sports regulations in order to be “inclusive for Muslim women” (« we urge international sport federations to show their commitment to inclusion by ensuring that their dress code for competition embrace Islamic requirements »).

We cannot but understand that you have chosen to ignore the strategy of Iran to contribute to women’s issues by “the promotion of the culture of modesty and hijab on a worldwide scale” (4)?

You will admit that this statement gives an entirely different meaning to the word “culture” than the meaning you feign to believe as it clearly aims to impose a political religious outfit for women, that covers entirely their body.

There is nothing new as already Ms Faezeh Hashemi, dressed in a black chador, said in her opening speech of the First Islamic Solidarity Games in Tehran (1993): “I hope these Games will serve as pattern for the free women of the world”.

Sport must stay clear of political and religious interfering. Its aim also is to eliminate all forms of discrimination.

FIFA ruling is about to abandon this noble aim and FIFA will be accountable for that.

As a last word, we are sad at the betrayal of your recent firm declaration: “The first specificity of sport concerns its pyramidal structure, with the IOC and International Federations at the top and its universality, based on global regulations applied to everyone, at the national and continental level. This is what makes sport such a powerful force for bringing together people of different nationalities” (Sport and Citizenship, December January 2010).

Sincerely yours,

Annie Sugier
LDIF president

Danièle Salva
Femix’Sports president

Olga Trostiansky
CLEF president

(1) The Turbulent World of Middle East Soccer, December 19, 2011, James M. Dorsey
(2) Iran is under Islamic law – a religious and not a cultural one - which was not the case before 1979 (see article IV of the Constitution of the Islamic Republic : “all civil, penal, financial, economic, administrative, cultural, military, political, and other laws and regulations must be based on Islamic criteria” ; article 638 of the Penal Code “anyone who explicitly violates any religious taboo in public beside being punished for the act should also be imprisoned from ten days to two months, or should be flogged (74 lashes); note : “women who appear in public without a proper hijab should be imprisoned from ten days to two months or pay a fine of 50,000 to 500,000 Ryal”).
(3) Declaration produced and approved at the Oman seminar (February 11th-16th, 2008), organised by the Sultan Qaboos University and IAPESWG (International Association of Physical Education and Sports for Women and Girls).
(4) Invitation to the Second International Conference on Women « Contributions of the Islamic World to Women’s Issues and Analysis of the Consequences of Feminism » May 2009. Invitation sent to Women’s Right NGO all around the world (letter dated April 15, 2009, with an introduction from the Islamic Revolution Leader, Sayed Ali Khamenei).

1 comment:

lindsay england said...

" As a former high level athlete I cannot understand why rules should be applied in a different way according to religious requirements. Even if you call these requirements "cultural" rules should be the same for every body.

Religion has never supported women's liberation. Lets maintain it as a private expression"