Silence is Deafening on Montreal Soccer Turban Ban

Where are the voices of our elected officials defending the right of Sikh children to play soccer with their turbans in Montreal?

In 1867, Sir John A. Macdonald wrote a letter calling for “an army of Sikhs” as “security for Montreal and Canada.” 

It’s a tragedy that 145 years later, it is in Montreal that Sikh children have been told that they will not be allowed to play soccer with their turbans.

FIFA Approved Head CoveringWe at WSO have been clear that the Montreal turban ban is a violation of human rights law and goes against everything we stand for as Canadians.  It’s also completely without reason.  We have been told by a FIFA referee that the turban worn by Sikh children is not a violation of FIFA rules and further that the headdress FIFA had approved for the Iranian Women’s soccer team (which was later rejected by the team, which wishes to wear the hijab) is not any different than the Sikh head-covering.  The turban does not pose any kind of safety hazard and no reason has been provided for the ban except that the turban is not a part of the soccer uniform.  Sikh children currently play soccer with their turbans all across Canada and the world. 

After the initial reply from the Lac St. Louis Regional Soccer Association in which the Association refused to budge from their position, we’ve followed up but haven’t heard back.

But it’s not that silence which is most upsetting.  A silence that is deafening is the silence of our elected officials who have not come to the defence of these Sikh children who are asking for nothing more than the opportunity to play soccer with their peers. 

The Sikh community is heavily courted during federal and provincial elections when politicians are eager to win the community’s votes.  But it is at times like this when Canadian Sikhs expect to hear their voices defending our basic human rights. 

We are still waiting to hear those voices defend Aneel Samra and the other Sikh children who have been told that because they wear the turban they won’t be allowed to play soccer. 

Why is no one speaking out?

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