WSO Reacts to Suspension of Quebec Soccer Federation

Ottawa (June 10, 2013):  The World Sikh Organization of Canada reacts with sadness to the decision of the Canadian Soccer Association to suspend the Quebec Soccer Federation for their refusal to allow the wearing of Sikh turbans for soccer players.  According to the CSA, the suspension will be lifted once the QSF ends its ban on the turban. 

WSO President Prem Singh Vinning said, “whereas Sikh children were initially the victims of the QSF’s decision to uphold the ban on the turban, it is now doubly unfortunate that so many other soccer players in Quebec will also have to suffer the consequences.  This entire episode has been completely unnecessary and senseless.  Let all players play.  It’s as simple as that. Our repeated attempts to reach out have been unsuccessful but we call on the QSF to immediately lift their ban on the turban for the sake of all soccer players in Quebec.”

On June 6th, Mr. Vinning had sent a letter to the QSF requesting for a review of the decision to uphold the ban on the turban and for a dialogue to address any concerns the QSF may have with respect to safety. [Original French and English version of Mr. Vinning's letter follows below this statement]

No response has been received from the QSF. 

WSO’s first letter to the QSF to address the issue of the accommodation of religious headdress on the soccer pitch was sent on June 21, 2011 which has been followed up on several occasions by phone calls and a registered letter.  No response was ever received from the QSF.

WSO legal counsel Balpreet Singh said, “this situation could easily have been resolved through open discussion and dialogue.  We are at a loss as to why the QSF has refused to simply talk to us.  In the absence of a dialogue, we will have to look at every alternative option, including legal action against the QSF.” 

WSO Vice President for Quebec Mukhbir Singh added, “we want to see this situation resolve immediately.  We hope that better sense will prevail so that all Quebec children can play with their friends.  In the interest of all players, the QSF should reconsider its earlier decision to ban the turban.”

The World Sikh Organization of Canada (WSO) is a non-profit organization with a mandate to promote and protect the interests of Canadian Sikhs as well as to promote and advocate for the protection of human rights for all individuals, irrespective of race, religion, gender, ethnicity, and social and economic status.

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For more information, please contact:

Balpreet Singh

Legal Counsel

416-904-9110

balpreetsingh@worldsikh.org

 

Martial Prud’homme, Président

Fédération de Soccer du Québec

955 Avenue Bois de Boulogne, Suite 210

Laval (Quebec) H7N 4G1

 

Cher M. Prud'homme,

L'organisation mondiale des Sikhs du Canada (WSO) est une organisation à but non lucratif ayant comme mandat de promouvoir et de protéger les intérêts de Sikhs Canadiens ainsi que de promouvoir et de préconiser la protection des droits de l'homme pour tous les individus, sans tenant compte de la race, de la religion, du genre, de l'appartenance ethnique, et du statut social et économique.

Nous vous écrivons de nouveau pour exprimer nos inquiétudes à la suite de la décision de la Fédération de Soccer du Québec de maintenir l’interdiction au port du turban pour les enfants Sikhs.

Comme vous le savez, les enfants sikhs ont joué au Soccer au Québec pendant plusieurs années jusqu'à ce que l’interdiction sur le turban ait été imposée en 2012. Ils continuent à le porter à travers le Canada et le monde. Nous n’avons conscience d’aucun un incident où il y aurait eu des inquiétudes de la sécurité des enfants en raison du turban.

Alors que nous apprécions le désir de la Fédération de Soccer du Québec d'être conforme aux règles de la FIFA, nous ne croyons pas que d’accommoder le turban serait une violation de ces règles. Nous armerions également noter qu'une restriction au turban n'est pas conforme à la Charte des droits et libertés de la personne du Québec. En fait, c'est complètement superflu.

Nous vous demandons que vous repassiez en revue votre décision d’interdire le turban. Nous aimerions également avoir un dialogue avec vous afin de résoudre cette situation amicalement. Nous sommes certains qu’une discussion ouverte sur ce sujet nous aidera à trouver une solution. Nous ne souhaitons pas que cette situation languisse ou qu’elle soit résolue par le système légal.

 

En attente de votre réponse.

Sincèrement,

Prem Singh Vinning
Président
World Sikh Organization of Canada

 

Dear Mr. Prud’homme,

 

The World Sikh Organization of Canada (WSO) is a non-profit organization with a mandate to promote and protect the interests of Canadian Sikhs as well as to promote and advocate for the protection of human rights for all individuals, irrespective of race, religion, gender, ethnicity, and social and economic status.

We are writing to you once again to express our concern over the decision of the Quebec Soccer Federation to uphold its prohibition on the wearing of the turban for Sikh children.  

As you will know, Sikh children played soccer in Quebec for many years until the prohibition on the turban was enforced in 2012.  They continue to do so across Canada and the world.  We are not aware of even a single incident where a safety issue arose due to the turban. 

While we appreciate the Quebec Soccer Federation’s desire to be in compliance with FIFA rules, we do not feel that accommodating the turban would be a violation of those rules.  We would also note that a restriction on the turban is not in accordance with Quebec human rights law.  More importantly, it is completely unnecessary.

We would ask that you review your decision to restrict the turban.  We would also like to have a dialogue with you in order to resolve this situation amicably.  We are sure that having an open discussion on this matter will help us find a solution. We do not wish to see this matter be dragged out any further or have to be resolved through the legal system.

I look forward to your response.

 

Sincerely,

 

Prem Singh Vinning

President, World Sikh Organization of Canada