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FIFA WWC: Nouhaila Benzina turns into first senior-level participant to play in hijab

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Morocco’s Nouhaila Benzina in motion in opposition to South Korea within the FIFA Ladies’s World Cup. AP

Stepping onto the sector in opposition to South Korea in Morocco’s second Ladies’s World Cup match, defender Nouhaila Benzina made historical past as the primary participant to put on a hijab whereas competing at a senior-level world event.

A FIFA ban on enjoying in spiritual head coverings in its sanctioned video games for “well being and security causes” was overturned in 2014 after advocacy from activists, athletes and authorities and soccer officers.

“I’ve little doubt that increasingly more girls and Muslim women will take a look at Benzina and simply actually be impressed – not simply the gamers, however I believe resolution makers, coaches, different sports activities as nicely,” mentioned Assmaah Helal, a co-founder of the Muslim Ladies in Sports activities Community.

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Benzina performs skilled membership soccer for the Affiliation’s Sports activities of Forces Armed Royal – the eight-time defending champion in Morocco’s high girls’s league. She didn’t play in Morocco’s opening 6-0 loss to Germany in Melbourne, and needed to wait six days to lastly get her begin within the Group H recreation in Adelaide.

Morocco are the primary Arab or North African nation to qualify for the Ladies’s World Cup.

The Atlas Lionesses had been ranked No. 72 on the planet forward of the event and had been overwhelmed by two-time champion Germany, who’re ranked second. However the Morocco crew performed with extra freedom in a day recreation in opposition to South Korea, and scored the opening aim.

“We’re honoured to be the primary Arab nation to participate within the Ladies’s World Cup,” Morocco captain Ghizlane Chebbak advised reporters earlier than event, “and we really feel that we’ve got to shoulder a giant duty to provide picture, to indicate the achievements the Moroccan crew has made.”

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