May 22, 2022

The hypocrisy of sports brands on wearing the hijab in France

This February 1st is International Hijab Day, yet in France neither Nike nor adidas, for example, have given voice to defend the cause of women who want to do sport while wearing their veil in the hexagon.

Marathon runner Rahaf Khatib in an adidas spot

While strolling on the site of adidas you will see many products intended for the women wearing the hijab, or the veil. Parts intended for sports practice but not only. The brand with the three stripes also recently put everyday veils on sale, thus developing its line intended for Modest Fashion. The same goes for Nike, which in addition to offering clothing for women wishing to dress modestly, launched a Modest Swimwear collection last July with the Muslim Sister Hood collective. In other words, wetsuits and hijabs intended for swimming.

Only here, while the collective Les Hijabeuses in France continues to multiply the actions to be able to play football while wearing the veil, the latter seem very alone. No brand supports them publicly except Kamak, a modest sportswear brand. After going to the FFF headquarters last summer to remind the French football body that headgear on football pitches has been authorized by FIFA since 2014, they organized a training session a few days ago. before the Senate in Paris. An action to fight against the new law prohibiting the wearing of the hijab in official competitions in France and voted by French senators in early January.

Le Hijab washing

So we wonder on this February 1st, International Hijab Day. On the Nike site, on the first page at the very bottom, a large insert is dedicated to this special day. You can download a guide there “will help give hijab-wearing athletes, and their teammates, the information and support they need”, can we read. “Because no girl should ever have to choose between sport and her beliefs“says the sportswear giant. A digital guide with columns informing about the “do’s” and “don’ts” when it comes to distributing sports hijabs to women.

The swoosh multiplied donations of Nike Pro sports bras and hijabs “to girls around the world through our local partners, so they can exercise successfully and confidently“, stipulates the brand which has indeed provided some pieces to the Hijabeuses as they confirm it to us. We also remember how in 2020 during New York Fashion Week, Nike chose to enlist the American fencer who wears the hijab, Ibtihaj Muhammad, to unveil the kits that the athletes sponsored by the swoosh would wear at the Olympics. of Tokyo in 2020. In 2019 it was the German boxer Zeina Nassar who was one of the muses of the swoosh as shown in one of her Instagram posts above.

In 2019, adidas enlisted marathon runner Rahaf Khatib in its “She breaks barriers” campaign, dedicated to women who, as its name suggests, break down barriers in sport. Via its adidas Originals range, the trefoil brand also teamed up with Pharrell Williams to launch “Now Is Her Time” – a campaign aimed at empowering women and featuring a number of changemakers, including the Egyptian-Malian model Kadija Diawara, veiled. So many operations carried out everywhere except in France where these behemoths who usually use their marketing strategies to shout “sport for all”, have preferred to remain silent in France. For all sports therefore, except for those who wear the veil in France.

So why such silence? If no one is above the law and the rise of Islamophobia in France is real (the number of anti-Muslim acts increased by 53% on French territory between 2019 and 2020), we must even remember that Nike is a partner of the FFF until 2026 and that adidas has been the sponsor of the French football team for more than 35 years. The two brands were successively the equipment suppliers of the French football team. So who will dare to shake up the French football body? Neither of the two brands mentioned in this article, which both find themselves faced with their contradictions.

February 1, 2022