Let Sikh Kids Play Soccer

Turban ban on soccer fields was stupid

First it was Hijabgate which was followed by Pastagate.  And the latest controversy was flamed by Turbangate.  It kept the media in Quebec busy.

What is next?

I am sure they will soon come up with another ridiculous controversy to distract people from corruption scandals, the state of our infrastructure and other problems like economy, health, education, environment and jobs.

The vast majority of Quebecers wanted Sikh children to play soccer.

Finally, after an outrage in Quebec, the rest of Canada and around the world, the Quebec Soccer Federation lifted the ban on members of the Sikh community to play soccer without removing their turbans.

The Quebec federation had ignored the ruling of the Canadian Soccer Association.

Then soccer international’s governing body, La Federation Internationale de Football Association (FIFA), stepped in saying the Quebec Soccer Federation was wrong about turbans.

“Our intervention was solely from a technical point of view and had absolutely nothing to do with religious matters or political issues,” explained Brigitte Frot, the executive director of the Quebec federation.

She said the Quebec body was “deeply sorry” if it had offended people.

The World Sikh Organization of Canada had considered taking legal action over the decision of the Quebec Soccer Federation.

Since the lifting of the ban, the Sikh organization has welcomed the change.

For more than a year, Mukhbir Singh, 25, a resident of Dollard-des-Ormeaux who wears a turban, has been trying to contact the Quebec Soccer Federation to discuss the ban.

The Quebec body never explained why it banned turbans.

Mukhbir, who played soccer for nearly a decade without any incidents, was outraged by the decision.

Spotlight-LetSikhKidsPlaySoccer-2Many Sikh children, who live in Pierrefonds, LaSalle, Dollard-des-Ormeaux and other areas, had not registered because of the ban.

The ban denied between 100 to 200 boys from playing soccer. There is no real evidence that turbans pose a threat to players.

Sikh children across Canada, except Quebec, are allowed to play soccer with turbans.

The same is the case in America, Britain and many other countries around the world.

The world soccer body does specify that players can only wear a jersey, shorts, shin guards, stockings and cleats while playing.

However, the world body does not specifically say that turbans and hijabs are not allowed on soccer fields.

A medical committee of the world body has categorically stated turbans and hijabs do not post any safety threats.

Sikh RCMP officers are allowed to wear turbans.

And the Queen’s Royal Guards are also allowed to wear turbans.

Soccer is one of the fastest growing sports in the world.

Minor soccer leagues across Canada allow Sikhs to wear turbans while playing the game.

It is obvious the initial ban on hijabs and the ban on turbans were not about safety.

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About Sultan Jessa

Born and educated in his native Tanzania and Europe, Sultan Jessa lives in Montreal. The award-winning journalist received Canada’s highest and most prestigious ‘Order of Canada’ in 2005 for more than three decades of community work. He has also been honored by the Catholic, the Jewish and also the Sikh community, who presented him with a Saropa.

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