Quebecers show solidarity with Sikh soccer players on turban ban
ER doctor says ban is medical ignorance, not necessarily discrimination
When Philippa Settels first learned the Quebec Soccer Federation had banned turbans on the pitch, she called up the league her two boys play for in Greenfield Park, Que.
She expressed her concerns to the former president of the Greenfield Park Soccer Association, who retired last spring.
He replied by saying the association had to abide by the QSF’s rule, like it or not, she told Daybreak Tuesday morning.
"I told him we don’t like it, and we’re not going to take part in allowing our children to play soccer this year if you’re turning away Sikh children," Settels said.
And with that, she and husband Donald Pinkerton pulled Stewart, 11, and Frank, 7, out of soccer.
The couple took offence to the QSF’s suggestion children wearing turbans play in their backyards instead of in a league.
"We took that very, very badly. We didn’t see it as a safety issue. We saw it more as a discriminatory comment," Settels said.
"We do not want to raise our children in a society where there’s intolerance and discrimination."
Elsewhere in the greater Montreal region, a team of non-Sikh soccer players in Brossard donned turbans last night in a show of solidarity.
No proof of turban-related danger: ER doctor
Dr. Sanjeet Saluja, an emergency doctor at McGill University Health Centre, as well as a longtime soccer player and coach, believes there is more to the decision than cultural intolerance.
"I’ve played soccer since I was six, seven years old and I’ve never had any patka-related injury," he said Tuesday morning.
"I think there’s been enough talk about intolerance. I think a lot of people have spoken about it. I personally feel this is more of a medical ignorance issue."
He said the QSF has not presented any proof of the dangers of wearing a patka while playing soccer, whether in a league or in a backyard.
As an ER doctor, he hasn’t seen any turban-related sport injuries, and as a Sikh who has played soccer for over 20 years, he's never personally been injured either.
He pointed to ill-fastened goal posts as a real cause for safety concern, saying that children have been hit by them while on the field.
"I think this is a non-issue more than anything else, in terms of safety," he said.