The French supreme administrative judge maintained this June 29 the ban on the wearing of the hijab in women’s football, against the opinion of his public rapporteur who had advocated its withdrawal and sparked controversy in the political class.
In a judicial epilogue to a new case related to religious symbols in public space, a recurring subject of debate in France, the Council of State decided on June 29 that the French Football Federation (FFF) could enact the rules that it considered necessary for the “smooth running” of the matches and was, as such, justified in prohibiting the wearing of the hijab on the pitch.
An “appropriate and proportionate” ban
The Council of State considers that the actors are users of a public service and are therefore not subject to the duty of “neutrality”. However, “sports federations, responsible for ensuring the proper functioning of the public service whose management is entrusted to them, may impose on their players an obligation of neutral dress during competitions and sporting events in order to guarantee the smooth running of matches and ‘prevent any confrontation or clash,’ he said in a statement. The ban enacted by the FFF is therefore “appropriate and proportionate”.
⚖️ Football: the Council of State judges that the ban on “any sign or outfit ostensibly displaying a political, philosophical, religious or trade union affiliation” enacted by the FFF is adapted and proportionate
A group of Muslim women, the “Hijabeuses”, challenged in court the legality of article 1 of the FFF regulations, which prohibits since 2016 “any wearing of a sign or outfit ostensibly displaying a political, philosophical, religious or trade union. They were based in particular on the rules of Fifa which since 2014 authorize players to evolve in international competition with their veil.
The Council of State did not follow the opinion of its public rapporteur
During the hearing on June 26, the public rapporteur, who speaks the law and whose opinion is generally followed, had recommended that they be given reason by considering that there was neither “proselytism” nor “provocation” in only wearing the hijab as well as no “neutrality requirement”. These recommendations had caused a lively controversy in the political class, the right demanding legislation on the wearing of religious symbols in sport.
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