Global News: After Quebec Soccer Federation reverses turban ban, does ill-will linger?

The QSF wrote in a prepared release that the ban was “solely from a technical point of view and had absolutely nothing to do with religious matters or political issues.”

One of Canada’s leading Sikh figures said he was willing to give the QSF the benefit of the doubt.

“I’m going to take them for their word,” said Prem Vinning, president of the World Sikh Organization of Canada. “We’ve dealt with the issue. Let’s move forward let’s unite all Canadians. Canada is stronger when we all come together.”

http://globalnews.ca/news/645330/

LAVAL- The Quebec Soccer Federation reversed its ban on players wearing turbans Saturday, appearing to close a full-blown controversy that erupted over minority rights.

“Happy that FIFA has clarified it’s position, the Quebec Soccer Federation authorizes the wearing of turbans in Quebec,” said Brigitte Frot, the director-general of the QSF. “Now they can play and the problem is solved, so we’re happy for that.”

The QSF originally cited safety concerns when it implemented the turban ban, and said that it was seeking clarification from FIFA, soccer’s international governing body. That ban earned the QSF a suspension from the Canadian Soccer Association earlier this week, and made headlines around the world.

Saturday, the QSF reversed its field, saying it had received necessary assurances from FIFA, and that it would allow turbans on the field. Montreal’s Sikh community, which organized a protest game in Lachine coincidentally on the same day, was ecstatic.

“Very happy, very excited, I was looking forward to it,” said Ganan Deep Walia, a Sikh who lives in Vaudreuil-Dorion. Her six-year-old son, Rasnam, was told he couldn’t play in his youth soccer league because he wore a patka, or a head-covering for young Sikh men. “I”m very happy to hear that this morning that the ban has been lifted.”

But the ban may leave lasting scars on minority groups in Quebec, who may feel lingering ill-will over the controversy. Georges Laraque, the former Habs forward who’s become something of a political activist, said that by citing FIFA as the origin of the change-of-heart, the QSF is hardly owning up to the decision.

“It’s not like they realized they made a mistake,” he said, taking a break from playing in the protest game. “How are things going to be in the future? That’s what I want to know.”

Amar Magon, a Montreal Sikh, played in the protest game as well, and still had reservations.

“I wonder what was going on in their minds to not allow the kids to play?” he said. “You question to yourself: ‘Why? What’s the real reason?’”

The Canadian Soccer Association suspended the QSF earlier this week, a suspension it lifted Saturday. The ban became even more controversial when Frot gave a telephone interview in English telling reporters that Sikh players “could play in their own backyard” if they insisted on wearing turbans.

Saturday Frot apologized for the remark, explaining that English is not her first language.

The QSF wrote in a prepared release that the ban was “solely from a technical point of view and had absolutely nothing to do with religious matters or political issues.”

One of Canada’s leading Sikh figures said he was willing to give the QSF the benefit of the doubt.

“I’m going to take them for their word,” said Prem Vinning, president of the World Sikh Organization of Canada. “We’ve dealt with the issue. Let’s move forward let’s unite all Canadians. Canada is stronger when we all come together.”


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