Last week, FIFA lifted a ban on wearing headscarves during play. Earlier, it considered that it was unsafe to wear them owing to the use of a clasp pin, but scarves with stickers surely do not disrupt sportswomen. From now on, many Asian women football teams will get an opportunity play in world championships, including the Olympic Games. Most likely, we will see women wearing headscarves in the track-and-field events at the London Olympics.
A ban on religious wear was lifted in the Beijing Games but this concerned only track-and-field events. A runner from Bahrain, Roqaya Al-Gassra took part in a special one-piece garment and a headscarf and won the sprint. This was a precedent, and Saudi sportswomen will take part in the Olympics for the first time in one-piece-garments.
However, despite these developments, France continues to oppose religious symbols in sports because it contradicts the country’s laws, says Professor Yevgenia Obichkina at the Moscow State Institute for International Relations.
“The integration of immigrants into society is a crucial issue in France. Every one seventh citizen of France is a descendent of immigrants. In the number of faithful, Muslims are in the second place after the Catholics, leaving Protestants far behind. In view of this the strategy of forced integration into French society was adopted. Former President Nicolas Sarkozy actively handled the problem of how to persuade French Moslems to become members of the French society and share all the republican values and customs. This led to the adoption of the law on the ban of wearing religious attributes in public places. This concerns not only the hijab but also crucifixes and Jewish skullcap,” Yevgenia Obichkina said.
However, the common tendency is that sports are becoming loyal to national cultures. New fashions open new opportunities for women who are restricted by religions in choosing their dresses. However, external appearance of the athletes should not distract him or her from the competition and moreover, disrupt them, says sport analyst Georgy Tvaltvadze.
“It’s difficult to say how important a headscarf is. It’s difficult to imagine a swimmer from a Muslim country diving in a hijab. It’s no difficult to imagine what will be its effect on the result. Simply, sports are going beyond pure sports and are becoming politics. This is wrong. Sport is sport. Sport is first and foremost the beauty of the human body,” Georgy Tvaltvadze said.
But undoubtedly, there is a dress-code in sports. For example, any violation of the dress-code by women chess players is equal to a technical defeat. They should wear skirts lower than the knees, and a décolleté is prohibited.