FIFA 2023: Women Are Leading Charge to Decolonize Football
There is no question that the 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup has elevated the women’s game to a new level and captured the imagination of generations of women and girls who have never seen themselves represented in this way before as the tournament moves into its final knockout stages.
African Nations are Flourishing in FIFA -Women’s World Cup 2023
In addition to all of this, the Women’s World Cup is highlighting how women’s football is growing and flourishing on the African continent. 3 African nations—Nigeria, South Africa, and Morocco—advanced to the round of 16 for the first time.
On Tuesday, France played with Morocco. On Monday, Nigeria lost on penalties to England, and on Saturday, South Africa was eliminated by the Netherlands. Many millions of fans, especially fans of color, are not unaware of the colonial legacy of these matches, which featured three former African colonies competing against the European nations that sought to control them.
To their credit, many in the media and on social media have referred to this competition as a crucial step towards the decolonization of this sport.
Since it was men who carried out the colonization, I suppose it is only fitting that women are leading the decolonization of football at their World Cup. It’s going to take a lot of hard work, resources, and money to actually accomplish this.
Up until this point, the World Cup has also featured the outstanding abilities of Haiti and Jamaica’s Reggae Girlz, the latter of whom qualified for the competition in part by raising money through a crowdsourcing appeal. A few weeks had passed since they were forced to issue a statement denouncing the Jamaican Football Federation (JFF) for its lack of support when they defeated footballing giants Brazil and France to earn their place in the round of 16.
Colombia, Panama, and the Philippines have also helped to rewrite history, joining the Caribbean teams in dominating football far beyond their weight class.
This World Cup is better than any other time in the history of women’s football at demonstrating the value of genuine representation. In defender Nouhalia Benzina, the team has made history by fielding the first hijabi football player to represent his country at the World Cup. Morocco will take the pitch against France in Adelaide, having already defied all odds to reach this stage.
Benzina’s abilities and her hijab have made headlines in media outlets all over the world. Her prominence is a huge victory for Muslim women and girls who have never had this kind of representation on the world stage of football.
On the eve of the World Cup beginning, France’s Senate upheld the country’s ban on Muslim women who choose to wear the hijab playing football. At the same time, many French people have publicly expressed their support for the courageous Iranian women who are fighting for their right to be free from the Iranian regime’s hijab-wearing requirements. Even so, Muslim women in France are required to take off their hijabs in order to participate in their favorite sport.
Make sense of it: Women Are Leading Charge to Decolonize Football
As we tune in to watch the game, the irony of everything will be on the minds of many Muslim women, girls, and sisters around the world.
Tiffany For instance, Joseph, a huge fan of football and other sports, spends time promoting football as a sport that is open to and accessible to women and girls from racial minority groups.
Joseph works to facilitate taking women from Birmingham’s diverse communities to watch the Premier League’s Aston Villa Women’s team play at Villa Park and organizes football teams and games for women from South Asian communities. For many, this is their very first time entering a football stadium. Joseph, a Muslim convert who plays football and netball while donning a hijab, is passionate about sports, addressing inequality, and representation. The majority of the women and girls she works with face particular obstacles, she told me.
I’ve witnessed these obstacles on both sides. I had no idea that Muslim women and girls… faced barriers to participating in football and other sports before I converted to Islam and began wearing a hijab. Role models, resources, and community support are lacking for women in these communities. Making sure Muslim women and girls can wear whatever they want to when they pay and seeing more women from diverse communities coming through as coaches in all areas of the game is one of the major challenges.
The beautiful game now has representation at its core thanks to the Women’s World Cup. However, in order for this World Cup’s legacy to be about more than just representation, it is necessary for the multibillion-dollar football industry’s powerful executives—many of whom are White men with privilege—to make room for and share resources with community organizations and activists who are working to address racial and gender inequality and create a sport that is truly equitable for all women.