The Alberta Soccer Association is standing by its policy forbidding players from wearing traditional Muslim headscarvesduring games, at least for now.
A 14-year-old Calgary girl was asked to leave an indoor soccer game last weekend because she was wearing a hijab.
The Calgary Minor Soccer Association later asked the provincial governing body to review the policy and allow the headscarf.
In an interim ruling Friday night, the association said the ban will continue until it has completed a more thorough review.
Alberta Soccer Association spokesman Gary Roy said there are concerns that the headscarves pose a danger to players. He said this is not a religious issue.
"This isstrictly a safety issue," he said. "Now, I know in the past, I have been asked if there have been statistics presented to show that the hijab is not safe. And I can say that I have not been presented with any of those statistics. However, I am also not in the position to put a child at risk so that I can turn around and say, 'hey look, I have stats.'"
Safaa Menhem wears the kind of scarf that has a Velcro strap under the chin. Roy said the referee who pulled her from the game was concerned that the chin strap was a choking hazard and wasn't convinced it would break away immediately if someone were to pull on it.
The decision effectively prevents Menhemfrom taking the field with her team on Saturday. Shesaidshe was planningtoshow up for the game,wearing her hijab,even if she has to remain onthe sidelines.
Across Canada the rules regarding hijabs in soccer vary. Both Alberta and Quebec have faced controversies when girls wearing the headscarves were ejected from games.
Several other associations allow hijabs to be worn during play.