Amnesty criticizes a French judicial decision that discriminates against Muslim soccer players

Amnesty International has criticized a French judicial decision that discriminates against Muslim female soccer players, describing it as "very disappointing" and violating freedom of expression and freedom of religion.

This came in response to Monday's decision by the Council of State which ruled that the French Football Federation did not need to change its discriminatory policy which effectively bars Muslim players who wear headscarves from participating in competitive soccer matches.

"The deeply disappointing decision by the Council of State  entrenches both racism and gender-based discrimination in French football," the organization said.

"The FA's ban on religious clothing not only prevents Muslim female soccer players who wear a hijab from playing in competitive matches, but also violates their rights to freedom of expression, freedom of association, and freedom of religion," she add

According to the organization, the decision ignores the recommendation of the general rapporteur to end this discriminatory ban and seriously undermines efforts to make women's sports more inclusive. It means that Muslim female soccer players in France will continue to be treated differently from other players, in clear violation of many of the country's international human rights obligations."

Founé Diawara, co-chair of Hijabeuses, which brought the case against the French Football Federation to the highest administrative court, said the decision was "a missed opportunity to right a long-standing wrong and simply allow us to play. Our struggle is not political or religious but rather "It is about our human right to participate in sports. Many women are excluded from football fields in France every weekend simply because they wear a headscarf."

The first article of the French Football Association's rules, drawn up in 2016, prohibits players from wearing "symbols or clothing that clearly shows one's political, philosophical, religious or trade union opinions" during matches. This ban remains in place, although FIFA abolished the ban imposed by itself in 2014 on wearing head coverings in football.


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