Montreal Gazette: Canadian Soccer Association speaks out against Quebec turban ban

Balpreet Singh, head of the World Sikh Organization of Canada, told The Gazette that the soccer association’s latest position is a repeat, albeit more strongly worded, of a directive it had issued in April to all Canadian referees to allow soccer players with religious headgear.

http://www.montrealgazette.com/life/Canadian+Soccer+Association+speaks+against+Quebec+turban/8494340/story.html

MONTREAL — After the Canadian Soccer Association spoke out against the Quebec Soccer Federation’s ban on Sikh religious headgear, the Quebec body hinted it would break its silence next week.

Asked by The Gazette on Friday whether officials would consider revoking the ban given the latest directive from the national association, Quebec Soccer Federation spokesperson Luiz Galvez responded: “No comments will be made until next week.”

The Canadian Soccer Association says a provincial federation was wrong to exclude turban-wearing children. The Ottawa-based organization says it is discussing the matter with the provincial body as a top priority, and it expects the position to be revised.

“(This) is the governing body for the sport in the country,” a Canadian association official, requesting anonymity, told The Canadian Press on Friday. “The Quebec Soccer Federation falls under our supervision. So they would apply the regulations the way we mandate them to.”

Tha association published a statement on its website Thursday in support of allowing Sikh players to wear religions headgear.

“As an unequivocal majority of our membership agrees with our approach and has safely instituted it within their respective soccer communities, we expect the Quebec Soccer Federation to do the same,” Victor Montagliani, president of the Canadian Soccer Association, is quoted as saying.

Balpreet Singh, head of the World Sikh Organization of Canada, told The Gazette that the soccer association’s latest position is a repeat, albeit more strongly worded, of a directive it had issued in April to all Canadian referees to allow soccer players with religious headgear.

Quebec is the only federation that refused.

The provincial association voted last weekend to maintain the turban ban for all players of organized soccer.

“We don’t know what is motivating this,” said Singh, whose organization has been unsuccessful in its attempt — telephone calls, letters, registered letters — to reach the provincial association about allowing Quebec’s children of Sikh faith to play soccer while wearing their turban.

“The big problem is that they refused to dialogue,” he said. “To this day we have not heard directly from the Quebec soccer association.”

The provincial association has drawn fire for its decision last weekend to uphold the turban ban.

If they want to play soccer, Quebec children can play in their own backyards, Brigitte Frot, the director-general of the provincial association, said earlier this week.

Claiming that religious headgear is a safety issue, Frot said the association is taking its cues from FIFA, soccer’s international governing body. FIFA rules do not explicitly state a position on such headgear.

Meanwhile, the Friends of Soccer website published what it says is a response from FIFA telling a player that headgear is permitted.www.friendsofsoccer.com/?p=38 published

FIFA did not respond to requests for confirmation.

The Canadian Soccer Association’s full statement can be found here:

http://www.canadasoccer.com/canada-soccer-s-position-on-allowing-turbans-patkas-keski-on-the-soccer-field-p154142

The Canadian Press contributed to this report.


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