French Extremists Launch Racist Campaign Against Hijab-Wearing Moroccan Soccer

By Yousef Ahmed October 18, 2023 4912

During the Women's World Cup in France, a wave of racism and xenophobia emerged, particularly from far-right factions in France and other European countries. This bigotry escalated, targeting various aspects, from mocking Muslims' daily prayers to British fans donning crusader attire, sparking debates over alcohol and LGBTQ+ rights.

The far-right in France escalated their discriminatory campaign during the Women's World Cup in football, specifically targeting Nahila Benzina, the first veiled Moroccan female football player. Rather than discussing the competitive match between France and Morocco, French analysts and politicians fixated on the hijab worn by the Moroccan team's player. This led to a surge in religious discrimination. 

The Moroccan team surprised everyone by advancing to the second round of the tournament, setting an unprecedented historic achievement in Arab women's football. However, instead of celebrating the accomplishment, French analysts and politicians shifted the narrative to focus on the player's hijab, fostering a deeply divisive and racially charged atmosphere.

After the Moroccan national team advanced to the second round to face France, the far-right in France launched a campaign against Morocco's defender Nahila Benzina (25 years old), who became the first veiled woman to participate in the World Cup.

Joulian Odoul, a spokesperson for the far-right National Rally party, criticized the sports news platform "Instant Foot" for supporting Nahila Benzina, stating that her impact would make millions of women worldwide feel represented as never before. Julian Odoul responded in a tweet on his Twitter account, stating: 'Shame on

'Instant Foot' for promoting regression and attacking women's dignity through the use of Islamist terms!' 

Philippe Gibert, a sports analyst on CNEWS, expressed astonishment at the sight of a veiled player in the Women's World Cup, considering it a remarkable setback. Similarly, Vincent Lautard, a health law expert, expressed his views on the Moroccan player's hijab on his Twitter account: 'Submitting to a man or a deity remains submission, passing it off as progressivism is a lie! It's simply a retrogressive religious conservative inclination wrapped in the guise of modernity!'" 

After France's victory over Morocco, Julian Odoul triumphantly declared the win not only as a victory for France but also as a triumph against Islamic ideology. He proudly claimed that "the hijab and Islamic ideology" were excluded from the game by the French team.

In 2014, FIFA lifted the ban on women wearing hijab or head coverings during matches, citing 'health and safety reasons,' following protests from human rights activists, athletes, and government representatives from several countries. The ban was lifted after a campaign led by Prince Ali bin Al Hussein, the Vice President of FIFA and a member of the executive committee at that time. 

The Women's World Cup for under-17 held in Jordan in 2016 marked the first international event organized by FIFA where Muslim female players were allowed to wear hijab. After her team's match against South Korea, the veiled player appeared alongside FIFA President Gianni Infantino, who warmly greeted her. 

FIFA President stated on his Instagram account: Nahila Benzina has become the first player to wear the hijab in one of the Women's World Cup matches. Football is inclusive, more tolerant, global, and diverse. He accompanied his post with the hashtag #NoDiscrimination." 

"The first veiled Palestinian referee."

This tournament not only marks the first time a veiled player participated but also the first time a veiled Palestinian referee joined the event. Hiba Saadia, the Palestinian referee, was part of the officiating team for the England vs. China match in the Women's World Cup finals, becoming the first Palestinian woman to referee a match in the tournament's final stages.

There have been no previous instances of Palestinian referees, male or female, participating in the finals of the Men's or Women's World Cup. This moment also signifies the first time a veiled woman has been selected to officiate at the World Cup finals.

FIFA, in a tweet from its official account on the platform 'Ex,' commented, 'International referee Hiba Saadia has made history today.' They added, 'She has become the first veiled Palestinian referee in the Women's World Cup.'

Hiba Saadia received her international refereeing license from FIFA in 2016. She was part of the officiating team in the AFC Women's Asian Cup held in India in 2022, officiated matches in the Asian qualifiers for the Women's World Cup, and was also involved in refereeing matches at the Tokyo Olympics in 2022."


Last modified on Wednesday, 18 October 2023 07:24