News Views: Crossing the line

Thoughts on the Quebec Soccer Federation and its refusal to lift its ban on turbans

The Quebec Soccer Federation is refusing to lift its ban on Sikh religious headwear – patkas, keskis and turbans.

Because of that, the Canadian Soccer Association suspended the provincial body from the national organization, until the ban is overturned.

If the suspension lasts long enough, Quebec teams could be blocked from participating in national championships.

Astonishingly, Quebec Premier Pauline Marois supports the turban ban, suggesting the provincial soccer federation has the right to make up its own rules.

That’s fine, then go play in your “own backyards.”

That is what the Quebec federation is saying to players affected by the ban, ostracizing them for what amounts to racial discrimination.

We cannot think of one distinct advantage wearing a turban – or patkas or keskis – would give a player on the soccer pitch, nor any safety concern.

Please clarify any.

Turbans are soft. If anything, they would deaden a header.

Sikh children around the world play soccer.  Their headwear has never been a safety concern.

It’s not like riding a motorcycle, for which, an Ontario court ruled in 2008, Sikhs must wear a helmet. But in B.C., they don’t have to.

In 1990, the federal government removed a ban preventing Sikhs in the RCMP from wearing turbans. Because, why wouldn’t they be allowed to?

So why now, 33 years later, is this an issue again?

And how is it possible the leader of a province that has fought since confederation to preserve its cultural identity would support such an attack on that of another?

It’s the height of hypocrisy.

As premier, surely Ms. Marois must understand that while provinces are responsible for services such as policing, the federal government makes the laws. Quebec is no more autonomous than the Canadian Soccer Federation is to FIFA, which has no specific rules regarding such headgear.

It is OK to make up rules of play. But when one crosses the line, such as the ban on religious headwear, someone must intervene.

That is why governing bodies exist, to ensure the integrity of the game and protect the players, in this case, from such prejudice.

– The News

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