France: New Law Compels Reform of Football Policy that Discriminates against Muslim Women

Writer Majid Siham poses with a soccer ball during a gathering to support the women soccer team “Les Hijabeuses” in front of the city hall in Lille as part of a protest as French Senate examines a bill featuring controversial hijab ban in competitive sports in France, February 16, 2022. REUTERS/Pascal Rossignol
In order to guarantee the principle of non-discrimination, France must now prioritise the reform of a long-standing discriminatory policy practiced by the Fédération Française de Football (FFF) that effectively prohibits Muslim women who choose to wear a headscarf from participating in competitive football matches, in violation of their right to religious freedom and freedom of expression.

On 24 February France adopted a new law aimed at democratising access to sports. A group of Senateurs ultimately failed in their repeated attempts to introduce a discriminatory amendment intended to prohibit women who choose to wear headscarves from participating in all sporting competitions and events organized by state-regulated sports federations and their associate organizations. However, these lawmakers successfully hijacked the legislative process ensuring that parliamentary sessions were stained with inflammatory rhetoric, offensive stereotyping and debates that stigmatised Muslim women.