When children start playing football in Finland, they are provided with kits, shorts, and socks by their teams but previously sport hijabs weren’t available.
“Finland is known for being a country of equal opportunities,” Heidi Pihlaja, head of women’s football development from the Football Association of Finland, said in a press release of the plan to make soccer uniforms “more hijabi appropriate.”
“However we know that there is still a lot to be done as Finland is becoming an ever-more diverse society. By donating hijabs we want to show our dedication to making football accessible to everyone,” added Pihlaja.
“For us equality is about accepting everyone as they are regardless of their religious beliefs, color of their skin or other attributes and identities. We hope that us leading by example encourages other sports and football associations to join us in promoting equality and equity in sports.”
However, promoting equality and diversity is something that is taken “very seriously” in football in Finland, according to the governing body.
In 2019, it also announced equal pay for both men and women players who compete for the Finnish national teams.
The Finnish hijab project is a collaboration with Nike and was planned with Sara Salmani, an expert of diversity, equity and inclusion.
“During the last months hijabs and banning them has made it to the headlines around the world, showing that Islamophobia is strengthening its foothold in the world,” Salmani said.
“It is great that Finland acts as a forerunner and shows that diversity belongs to both sports and everyday life. Donating the hijabs proves that the National League truly stands behind their values and words while continuing their active work against racism and discrimination.”
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