Canadian soccer officials are seeing red after organizers in Quebec told Sikh boys that if they wanted to wear turbans on the field, they should “play in their backyard.”
So the Canadian Soccer Association has suspended that province’s federation for of its continued refusal to allow players to wear traditional head scarves.
“The Canadian Soccer Association had requested on June 6 that the Quebec Soccer Federation reverse its position … with no resolution,” CSA president Victor Montagliani said online.
“The Quebec Soccer Federation’s inaction has forced us to take measures in order to ensure soccer remains accessible to the largest number of Canadians.”
The CSA will lift the suspension once the Quebec federation has fallen in step with a national policy that allows turbans.
Quebec is the only Canadian province to ban them.
Organizers in Quebec say they are unsure if turbans are a safety hazard because they don’t have money to fund a study on the matter, BBC reported.
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They also suggest the world-governing body, FIFA, doesn’t provide clear direction on the matter.
The debate has reached political levels, with federal politicians lauding the move and provincial leaders defending the ban.
Justin Trudeau, leader of the Liberal Party of Canada, said on Twitter that “barring kids from playing soccer because they wear a turban is wrong.”
However, Quebec Premier Pauline Marois said the CSA has no jurisdiction over the provincial body.
CBC News reported that Quebec teams might be barred from competing outside the province, and some high-level games in Quebec might be jeopardized if a nationally certified referee is needed.
“Unfortunately, that means soccer players are being punished for something that the Quebec Soccer Federation should have corrected right away,” said Dr. Sanjeet Singh Saluja, a physician who says there’s no medical reason behind the ban.
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