OK, so I know this isn’t totally topical anymore, nor is it completely on topic, but trust me I’ll try to bring it around. It wasn’t long ago that the Iranian Women’s football team was disqualified from an Olympic qualifying match because the player wanted to wear their hijab. Now there are many issues surrounding this story including FIFA’s general ban on political and religious displays and whether the Iranian team broke a previous compromise agreement with FIFA regarding some sort of cap to replace the hijab.
I don’t want to get into the religious freedom issue, in part because it’s so inflammatory and in part because I can see both sides. The thing is, from what I’ve seen of the reporting on this issue from both the Islamic and Western press is that FIFA is standing by their contention that the hijab presents a choking hazard. That’s right. Instead of standing by their established rule about political and religious statements they are instead putting forth this perplexing nonsense about safety. Poppycock!
As a referee I would not want to see a hijab in a scrum or a ruck. I would worry about a player in a hijab on a break away with a defender chasing them down. I can see safety issues there in terms of both choking and whiplash types of injuries. But that’s because I referee rugby, a sport that has actual contact as an actual part of the game. I ask you, when in football is there enough prolonged contact of a grasping or pulling nature as to present a choking hazard? Mind you, this is “sport” where players fling themselves to the ground, roll around and cry if an opponent passes within a meter of them. So when the hell is anyone going to have a chance to choke anyone else? The whole assertion is preposterous. It seems to me to be a thinly veiled attempt to punish the Muslim world simply for being Muslim.
Get with it FIFA, stop pretending your game has any danger and clean up the egregious flopping before trying to assert any claims about protecting player safety. Ninnies.