Morocco defender Nouhaila Benzina created a slice of Women’s World Cup history Sunday, when she became the first senior-level player ever to wear a hijab during a game at the tournament.
Benzina, who practice the Islamic faith, started at the center of the backline for the Atlas Lionesses against South Korea in Adelaide’s Hindmarsh Stadium, clad in traditional headwear along with her team’s predominantly white uniforms.
The 25-year-old, who plays for the Association’s Sports of Forces Armed Royal team in her homeland, did not feature in Morocco’s first-ever World Cup match, a 6-0 defeat against Germany on July 24.
However, head coach Reynald Pedros inserted her into the lineup as part of an overhaul with the team chasing its first goal, first point and first win at World Cup – all of which happened, as the team prevailed, 1-0. The first of those targets was accomplished on only six minutes, when Ibtissam Jraidi headed home the go-ahead goal with an excellent header at the near post.
Despite its painful start to the tournament, Morocco’s team has been embracing its role in history, as the first Arab nation to be represented in the competition
The topic of the hijab has been much-discussed in recent years. It remains banned for use in soccer in France, while in Canada, a court case from 2011 in which a young girl took legal action to be allowed to play in a hijab generated international attention.
Benzina has not spoken to the media since arriving in Australia, but her story has been spread to a global audience, even when she remained on the bench in the opening game.
Morocco, the lowest-ranked team in the tournament at No. 72, was seeking to keep alive its hopes of progressing to the second round.
South Korea, meanwhile, enjoyed history of its own in its first game, when 16-year-old Casey Phair, who lives in New Jersey, became the youngest men’s or women’s World Cup participant ever.
Taroudant, Morocco, March 22, 2012
After a five year ban, The International Federation for world soccer FIFA agreed officially to allow players to wear the Muslim hijab (headscarf) during football games and all sports.
Since 2007, FIFA has included headscarves in the banned list for players when Asmahan Mansour was prevented from playing a match by the Quebec Soccer Federation after she refused to remove her headscarf.
According to (FIFA) player equipment law “a player must not use equipment or wear anything that is dangerous to himself or another player (including any kind of jewelry).” Law 4, safety.
Officials claimed that the headscarf, which veiled athletes’ heads and necks, violated the organization’s dress code and posed a potential safety threat.
According to a FIFA member, the Hijab wear presented by Dutch designer Cindy van den Bremen convinced the committee that wearing sports head-cover can be safe.
This decision has brought the smile to the face of Muslim female players who have been deprived the right to play football or participate more professionally in any official sport with their head scarves.
The removal of this ban will encourage more Muslim women to play football and give them worldwide opportunity to be engaged in sport games professionally. No more excuses to their noticed absence in the international competitions.
Yet, further tests are called for by the International Union, before the announcing of the final decision on July 2nd, 2012.
Source: © Morocco World News. All Rights Reserved
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