Top French court upholds ban on wearing hijab during soccer games


PARIS (Reuters) – France’s top administrative court on Thursday ruled against a collective of Muslim female soccer players in their case against the French Football Federation (FFF), upholding a ban on the Islamic headscarf, or hijab, during games.

The Council of State (Conseil d’Etat) ruled that “the ban enacted by the FFF is suitable and proportionate,” said the court in a statement.

“Sports federations, in charge of proper functioning of the public service whose management is entrusted to them, may impose on their players an obligation of outfit neutrality during competitions,” the statement read.

The lawyer for the Muslim collective, called the “Hijabeuses”, was not immediately available for comment.

Soccer’s world governing body FIFA lifted a similar ban on female footballers wearing the hijab more than a decade ago.

Home to one of Europe’s largest Muslim minorities, France has implemented laws designed to protect its strict form of secularism, known as “laicité,” which President Emmanuel Macron has said is under threat from Islamism.

Some Muslim associations and human rights groups allege those laws have targeted Muslims, chipped away at democratic protections and left them vulnerable to abuse.

(Reporting by Juliette Jabkhiro; Editing by Andrew Cawthorne)

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