Get Out of Our Wardrobes!

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Sample Letter to FIFA

You can directly email here: http://www.fifa.com/contact/form.html  


I am writing to express my disappointment with FIFA’s recent decision to ban Iran’s and Jordan’s women’s soccer teams from its tournaments because of the players’ clothing. I believe it is offensive and discriminatory.

FIFA’s rules state that players must avoid wearing any item that threatens to cause choking or injury, and that their clothing “must not have any political, religious or personal statements.”

There is nothing about the hijab, particularly in the sport-friendly version worn as part of the Iranian women’s soccer uniforms, that poses more of an inherent threat to physical safety than other articles of clothing.

Moreover, although this rule doesn’t explicitly single out Muslims, it affects Muslim women disproportionately.  For Muslim women who believe that the headscarf is a religious requirement, this rule asks them to choose between following their religion and playing soccer, which is not a choice that religious women of most other faiths have to make.  FIFA needs to consider the unequal implications of its rules, and to stop policing the clothing that some Muslim players are wearing.

For many girls and women, playing sports is a way of staying healthy, building self-esteem, and being part of a strong community.  The opportunity to participate in organised sports represents more than just an occasional meet-up to kick a ball around; for many people, it is also plays a vital role in their health and sense of self and community.

This is also about more than isolated incidents affecting only a few players.  The coach of the Iranian women’s team has said that FIFA’s ban will have a devastating impact on women’s soccer in the country, and not only on the team’s chances at this particular tournament.

There are many examples of sports events where participants wear hijab without incident.  Ontario and Alberta both allow female soccer players to wear hijab, unlike what has recently been seen in Quebec.  Elsewhere, girls and women are competing while wearing hijab in a wide range of sports including basketball, fencing, Australian football, weightlifting, and boxing.

I am   tired of everyone – governments, our families, religious scholars, the justice system, our peers – being obsessed with what Muslim women wear.  Muslim women and girls have the right to choose how we outwardly express our faith and religion. Muslim women have the right to wear what we please. FIFA needs to get get out of our wardrobes and let women play.