Quebec Soccer Federation sticks to turban ban
Quebec Soccer Federation says it's following FIFA rules
The Quebec Soccer Federation says it will uphold its turban ban on the field, and those who don't obey the rules can "play in their backyards."
The federation's executive-director, Brigitte Frot, says the organization takes safety too seriously to allow turban-wearing boys and will only change its stance if ordered to by FIFA, soccer's international governing body.
However, she admits she has no idea what the safety issues are and knows of no injuries involving turbans.
Frot says Sikh boys should do as hijab-wearing Muslim girls did and take their case directly to FIFA. It took four years, but FIFA authorized a one-year experiment, allowing female players to wear hijabs.
"FIFA made a trial period to make sure the equipment that is required for the girls is correct," she said.
She says the Quebec Soccer Federation will be glad to welcome boys in turbans if FIFA rules that they are safe. However, the federation won't lobby FIFA to conduct a safety study.
Turbans, including the patka and keski typically worn by young Sikhs, haven’t been allowed on Quebec soccer fields since the QSF banned them last year.
Sikhs 'saddened' by soccer turban ban
For the first time in 11 years, Aneel Samra will not be playing house-league soccer in Lasalle because of the decision to uphold the ban.
Samra says some referees would allow him to play while wearing his turban but others would ask him to leave the pitch. This season he decided not to risk it.
"All Sikh children in Quebec are confused. Everywhere in Canada you're allowed to play but not in Quebec," Samra said.
The spokesman for the World Sikh Organization of Canada, Balpreet Singh, says soccer associations around the world accommodate players who wear turbans. He says the Quebec federation is going to a lot of trouble for nothing.
"It seems like an unnecessary hassle to have to go all the way to FIFA in order for FIFA to rule that six and seven-year-old children can't play with their turbans," says Singh.
Mukhbir Singh is Quebec vice-president of the World Sikh Organization of Canada. He has also been playing soccer in Montreal since he was a child.
He says some of his closest friends were made on the soccer pitch, and he learned a lot from the game.
"I'm worried about the long-term effects this will have on our Sikh children," said Singh.
Singh says the World Sikh Organization will likely make a final appeal to the Quebec Soccer Federation, asking it to lift the ban. But if nothing happens, his group will not rule out legal action.