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No cultural discrimination in Hijab ruling: Concordia coach

by Archives March 14, 2007

The head coach of the indoor soccer team at Concordia said he didn’t agree with FIFA’s decision to ban soccer players wearing hijabs.

In late February, 11-year old Asmahan Mansour was told she couldn’t play while wearing her headcovering at a youth soccer tournament in Laval. At the annual convention last week, the authorities of FIFA ruled that hijabs would not be allowed on the playing field.

“If I was the referee, I would have let it go just because it’s an isolated case and it’s at a youth level,” said Francois Bastien in an interview last week.

Bastien said that the argument of safety was not even worth mentioning.

He doesn’t think the chance of injury is increased either for the player wearing the hijab or for a player on the opposing team.

“The [head]wear itself has nothing to do with security,” he said. “It’s obviously not dangerous.”

However, Bastien said he understood why the hijab was likely banned. He said that soccer is a cultural phenomenon that has developed over many years.

If it had been up to him, Bastien said he would have let Mansour play in the tournament.

However, he said that he would have explained to her that the game has a history and a culture that need to be respected as much as a particular culture or religion.

Bastien doesn’t think banning the hijab is a form of cultural discrimination. Instead, he thought it was the referee’s way of adhering to the game’s dress code and trying to maintain the integrity of the game.

“There’s no cultural bias as far as I’m concerned,” said Bastien.

“It’s just there are rules and regulations . . . and anybody that comes with anything on their head would probably not be able to play.”

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