Sports Versus Religion: A Legitimate Protestation?

Miah D.Senior Writer IJanuary 22, 2009

In 2007, in Montreal, an eleven year old girl has been excluded from a Junior Soccer game by a referee because she would not take off her Hijab. 

The young athlete’s team, as well as a few other teams around Quebec and Ontario decided to leave the tournament as sign of protestation. 

The referee, himself Muslim, claimed that he based his judgement and decision on a FIFA’s rule. 

In fact, the law number four states that “a player must not use equipment or wear anything that is dangerous to himself or another player, including any kind of jewellery."

Interpretation then leaves us with the idea that the Hijab could be harming for her, or her team-mates, according to the referee. Pardon the interruption, how?

The President of the Islamic Canadian Congress expressed his disagreement with the decision, stating that her Hijab was no harm to anyone. . “Muslim women wear the Hijab while playing Basketball, soccer, and even at the Olympic Games”, which is true. 

Ruqaya Al-Ghasara took part to the 2004 Athens and 2008 Beijing Olympic Games. In 2008, more than ten women participated in the Olympics, in disciplines like sprinting and archery, and they all had veils. 

So why would it be allowed at the Olympics games, and not in a junior soccer tournament?

The FIFA Rulebook later published this next paragraph: 

"Players must not reveal undergarments showing slogans or advertising.The basic compulsory equipment must not have any political, religious or personal statements.A player removing his jersey or shirt to reveal slogans or advertising will be sanctioned by the competition organiser. The team of a player whose basic compulsory equipment has political, religious or personal slogans or statements will be sanctioned by the competition organiser or by FIFA." 

The Head of the Department of Islamic Jurisprudence at Qatar University, Ali Muhyy Ed-Deen Al-Qara Daghi stated in a paper that “women must not unveil any of their private parts that Islam order them to cover.” 

Now, very limited is my knowledge of the Islamic religion. But through reads, it seems the Koran says that “women should draw their veils over their bosoms and not unveil their beauty except to their husbands.”

Do you think the referee had the right to tell her to take off her Hijab?  

The story was even more controversial when it has been noticed that the little girl was allowed to play two games before the incident, of course wearing her Hijab.

Should the world of Sport interfere in such Religious matters?