The Finnish National League offers the hijab to any player who wants one

Finnish Women’s First Division Soccer, the National League makes the hijab free any player who wants one.

Heidi Pihlaja, Head of Women’s Football Development at the Finnish Football Association, said in a press release that the plan to make football uniforms “more hijabi-appropriate” is in keeping with his country’s reputation as an “equal opportunity country”.

“We know there is still a lot to do as Finland becomes an increasingly diverse society,” Pihlaja wrote. “By donating hijabs, we want to show our commitment to making football accessible to everyone.”

“For us, equality means accepting everyone as they are, regardless of their religious beliefs, skin color or other attributes and identities,” she added. “We hope that leading by example will encourage other sports and football associations to join us in promoting equality and fairness in sport.

The distribution of hijabs in Finland is a collaboration between Nike and the Finnish government, and was organized with a diversity, equity and inclusion expert, Sara Salmani.

In Finland, a country of just over 6 million people and known as a pioneer of gender equality, children who play football are given kits, shorts and socks by their teams, although the sports hijabs were not offered before.

In 2018, a survey carried out by the Pew Research Center found that up to two-thirds of citizens “revealed that they think Islam is fundamentally incompatible with the culture and values ​​of Finland”, and more than a quarter said they would not accept a Muslim as a member of their family.

Football’s governing body is keen to promote equality and diversity, however, and says it is something it takes “very seriously”.

In February of last year, the football association deleted the word “women” from the title of its highest league in women’s football to challenge “existing attitudes in sport”.

In 2019, he also changed the rules so that there was equal pay for male and female players who compete for the Finnish national teams.

More recently, 16-year-old Mariem Chourak founded the #HandsOffMyHijab movement to protest against the amendment of an “anti-separatism” bill by senators in France which applies to girls under 18 and aims to strengthen France’s secular values.

France banned religious clothing In 2004, including the Muslim hijab in public schools. Six years later, he banned the full veil in all public spaces.

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