Unlike the Iran Football Federation's political shenanigans to create controversy over FIFA's hijab regulations, a 15-year-old Montreal hijabi has a legitimate complaint.
You'll remember FIFA disqualified Iranian footballers from a 2012 Olympic qualifying match for violating the hijab ban. Much shouting and hurt feelings ensued, although two years ago Iran signed an agreement to the ban and to wear specially designed caps.
But Sarah Benkiran's case is different. She has been a football referee for two years before someone noticed she was wearing a hijab and complained. Lac St. Louis league officials fired Benkiran. Again, we see FIFA rules conflicting with religious obligations. In Benkiran's case, her hijab never posed a problem until someone whined about it. There was no safety issue or specific incident in which the hijab posed a hazard. Above all, nobody thought it was worth rushing to the rule book to see whether she was violating the guidelines.
The problem here is the inconsistency in which leagues operating under FIFA regulations apply the rules. I don't necessarily agree with Benkiran that caps not covering the neck are inappropriate, but that's me. I can't judge how other Muslim women practice their religion.
Giving a waiver for a referee making calls for a teen league doesn't seem like such a huge violation of FIFA rules.
Clearly this issue is coming up regularly now. Perhaps FIFA should revisit Rule 4 to provide leagues with some leeway in handling the hijab issue to minimize tossing every Muslim woman off the playing field.