The Finnish National League has announced that from this spring onwards, a sports hijab will be part of the kit offered to players by clubs.
So far, such a kit is provided to young players, included jerseys, shorts and socks.
The idea is to encourage girls from immigrant backgrounds to try out new sports and participate.
According to Sara Salmani, an expert on diversity and inclusiveness, who helped design the project in collaboration with Nike, called it a testament to the fact that the National League really backs up its values and continues its proactive work against racism.
“An ordinary hijab is not always very practical in sports. A sports hijab is a really significant statement that every player is welcome and valued. Finland is blazing the trail, showing that diversity belongs not only to sports but also to everyday life,” Salmani said. “The hijab is often seen negatively in Finland as well, although the most important thing is that a woman herself can choose what to wear,” Salmani added.
The free hijabs are timed to coincide with the 50th anniversary of organized women's football in Finland, and the donation is part of a celebration intended to show that football is open to everyone.
“Finland is getting increasingly diverse, and we want to take better account of different needs when girls become part of the football family,” Pihlaja said.
The Finnish Football Association said that in the future, it wants to challenge other sports federations to follow their example and respect the different needs of diverse players to preserve the openness of the game.
Islam is a minority religion in Finland, practiced by 2.7 percent of Finland's 5.5 million population.