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Morocco's Benzina makes history with hijab at Women's World Cup

Nouhaila Benzina became the first player to wear a hijab during a Women's World Cup game when she sported the Muslim headscarf in Morocco's match against South Korea on Sunday.

World governing body FIFA lifted its ban on players wearing the hijab nearly a decade ago, after previous concerns over player safety.

The 25-year-old defender Benzina, who plays her club soccer in Morocco, ran out against South Korea in Adelaide to write her name in the history books.

Benzina shared social media posts in the lead-up to the World Cup about wearing a hijab, but has not spoken to the media in Australia and New Zealand about it.

She told broadcaster Al Jazeera recently it would be a proud moment.

"Lots of work was done over many years, and thank God it had a positive result," she said. "We hope to play at a high level and honor Moroccans."

Several other sports have lifted hijab bans in recent years including basketball, but it is still not allowed during official football matches in France.

The Moroccan women, coached by Frenchman Reynald Pedros, are at their first Women's World Cup on the back of a historic runners-up finish at the 2022 Women's Africa Cup of Nations.

They were thrashed 6-0 by Germany in their tournament opener, with Benzina remaining on the bench.

© 2023 AFP