Nouhaila Benzina, a defender for the Morocco women’s national team, has made history as the first player to wear a hijab at the FIFA Women’s World Cup. She sported the Muslim headscarf in Morocco’s match against South Korea on July 30, 2023, which they won 1-0.
Benzina was born on May 11, 1998, in Kenitra, Morocco. She started playing football at the age of six and joined ASFAR, one of the most successful clubs in Morocco, in 2014. She debuted for the national team in 2018 and has since become a regular starter.
Benzina said that she was proud to represent her country and her faith at the global tournament. “Lots of work was done over many years, and thank God it had a positive result,” she quoted as saying in Al Jazeera. "We hope to play at a high level and honour Moroccans," the footballer added.
Benzina is not the only player who wears a hijab in the Moroccan team. Several of her teammates also cover their hair, including some players from other countries such as Iran, Afghanistan, and Indonesia. However, Benzina is the first to do so at the senior-level Women’s World Cup, which is the most prestigious event in women’s football.
The hijab was banned by FIFA until 2014, citing health and safety concerns. The ban was lifted after a campaign by Muslim players and activists who argued that it was discriminatory and violated their religious freedom. Since then, FIFA has allowed head coverings that are attached to the shirt and expose the neck.
Here is all you need to know about Nouhaila Benzina:
Age: 25 years
Date of Birth: May 11, 1998
Hails from: Kenitra, Morocco
Foot: Right footed
Height: 1.73 m (5 ft 8 in)
Teams: ASFAR, Morocco, Morocco U-20