WSO President Prem Singh Vinning sent a letter to Minister of State (Sport) Bal Gosal on June 25, 2012 calling on him to defend the right of Sikh children to play soccer in Quebec with their turbans. Mr. Vinning wrote, "The issue is quite simple; will these children be excluded from playing soccer simply because of their faith? We sincerely hope that the answer is a clear and resounding ‘NO’."
Almost three weeks later, there still appears to be no action being taken by Minister Gosal and no response has been sent to WSO.
The full text of the letter to Minister Gosal is below:
June 25, 2012
The Honourable Bal Gosal, P.C, M.P.
Minister of State (Sport)
House of Commons
Re. Sikh Children & Montreal Soccer
Dear Minister Gosal,
I am writing with respect to a very serious issue facing Sikh children in the Montreal area. It was reported in the Montreal Gazette on May 21, 2012 that Sikh children in Lasalle Quebec have been told that they cannot play soccer while wearing their turbans. It has been over a month and the situation has not yet been resolved and we are disappointed that there has not been a clear voice of support for these Sikh children who are being excluded for nothing more than following their faith.
Our organization has been in touch with family members of Sikh children in Lasalle and we have been told that Sikh children continue to be excluded from soccer games and several families have now pulled their children from playing soccer. This is of course an unacceptable situation which is resulting in the marginalization of these children.
WSO has been in contact with the Lac St. Louis Soccer Association to point out that Sikh children play in their turbans across Canada without issue. We have also highlighted the fact that in the opinion of FIFA referee Phil Sharp, the wearing of the turban is not a violation of FIFA rules. Furthermore, the headdress approved by FIFA for the Iranian women’s team is very similar to the turban these Sikh children wear. We have not however been successful in affecting any change with the soccer association.
We would request your support and intervention as Minister of State (Sport) to help resolve this situation. As someone from a Sikh background we believe you are particularly well-suited to appreciate the importance of the turban and the impact this exclusion is having on Sikh children.
The issue is quite simple; will these children be excluded from playing soccer simply because of their faith? We sincerely hope that the answer is a clear and resounding ‘NO’.
We look forward to your response.
Prem Singh Vinning
World Sikh Organization of Canada