Quebec Soccer Federation Decision to Uphold Turban Ban Unreasonable: WSO

Ottawa (June 2, 2013):  The World Sikh Organization of Canada is deeply saddened by a decision of the Quebec Soccer Federation’s  (QSF) Board of Directors maintaining its prohibition on the wearing of turbans by Sikh players.

The QSF has announced that its Board of Directors, during a meeting held on Saturday June 1st, has decreed that referees in Quebec must continue to enforce a prohibition on the wearing of the turban.  This is despite directions to referees , issued by the Canadian Soccer Association (CSA)in April, instructing them to allow Sikh players to wear turbans. 

Although soccer leagues across Canada already accommodate the wearing of the turban, it was reported in June 2012 that 17 year old Aneel Samra and other Sikh players in the LaSalle Minor Soccer Association in Quebec had been told that they would not be permitted to play because of their religiously mandated turbans. 

WSO had been working on an ongoing basis with the CSA and other stakeholders to ensure that the turban would be accommodated for this year’s soccer season.

Responding to the QSF’s announcement,  WSO Vice-President  (Quebec & Atlantic Region) Mukhbir Singh said, “we had been hoping that better sense would prevail and the QSF would allow Sikh children to play.  In any case, the soccer season has already started here in Quebec and many Sikh children have not registered because of the turban ban.  Even a positive decision would have been too late for them.   Our repeated attempts to reach out to the QSF were unsuccessful and what we are left with is a completely senseless and unreasonable decision.”

WSO President Prem Singh Vinning said, “while girls are permitted to wear headscarves, I fail to see the logic in prohibiting turbans for Sikh boys.    Sikh children have waited patiently since last year for this issue to resolve so they can rejoin their peers on the pitch.  Unfortunately they will have to wait even longer.  We will be examining all of our options moving forward in ensuring that Sikh children can play soccer again in Quebec.”

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.

For further information please contact:

Balpreet Singh (legal counsel & spokesperson)

416-904-9110 or balpreetsingh@worldsikh . org

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