The Province: B.C. soccer doesn't have a problem with turban

B.C.'s executive director of the World Sikh Organization (WSO), Sukhvinder Kaur Vinning, said that in Quebec "the Sikh boys have been sidelined, and they are struggling."

http://www.theprovince.com/life/soccer+doesn+have+problem+with+turbans/8474980/story.html

BY SAM COOPER, THE PROVINCE; WITH FILE FROM CANADIAN PRESS JUNE 4, 2013

While Quebec soccer officials have upheld a controversial ban excluding youths who wear turbans for supposed safety reasons, soccer officials in B.C. say they strongly support inclusion of Sikh youth.

Quebec referees have been turfing young players wearing turbans, patkas and keskis - the religious headgear worn by Sikh men and boys - over the past year.

The move is being explained as an interpretation of an arcane FIFA safety rule. FIFA - soccer's international governing body - changed its "Law 4" last year to allow Muslim girls wearing head scarves, but the rule still doesn't explicitly name turbans as excepted headgear.

In a teleconference Monday, Brigitte Frot, the director general of Quebec's association, told reporters she could not cite any injuries associated with turbans, but maintained her group is asking referees to enforce the anti-turban safety law. Quebec is simply following FIFA rules, Frot said.

The question of turban safety hasn't been raised by referees in B.C. for years, Paul Mullen, executive director for B.C. Soccer Association, said Monday.

If there was any question, in April the Canadian Soccer Association directed provincial associations to allow turbans, "so we are just following the guidance of the CSA," Mullen said.

"From our perspective, our mandate is to support as much opportunity as we can for all participants," Mullen said.

"The Sikh community is a very important part of soccer in B.C."

Susan Dhillon, president of Vancouver's Marpole Soccer Club, said Quebec officials are misinterpreting a "nonissue."

"How do you explain to a six-or seven-year-old that they can't join a Quebec Soccer Federation league because of the patka or turban the child wears?" Dhillon said. "It's really too bad Quebec is choosing to exclude, instead of teaching tolerance."

B.C.'s executive director of the World Sikh Organization (WSO), Sukhvinder Kaur Vinning, said that in Quebec "the Sikh boys have been sidelined, and they are struggling."

The WSO says Quebec is the only province enforcing anti-turban rules in soccer. Vinning said the WSO will continue its dialogue with provincial soccer officials in hopes of getting Sikh boys back on the pitch.

scooper@theprovince.com

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