Tuesday, June 04, 2013

Friends of Soccer: Quebec Turban Ban Cannot Stand.


When I formed Friends of Soccer in 2005, our specific goal was to mobilize grassroots support for the Whitecaps attempts to build a soccer stadium on the waterfront. While that goal did not come to fruition, the efforts of thousands of people who made their views known to governments and Major League Soccer through this site played a role in ensuring the future of professional soccer in Vancouver. We are all able to enjoy soccer at the highest level in Vancouver today.

Soccer is universal. It incorporates so many of the values that define us as Canadians; hard-working, competitive, diverse and tolerant. I have always enjoyed the common bond soccer brings to people of many cultures and beliefs, and wished that everyone could experience the joy of this great sport. No one should be denied that chance.

That is why I find the recent actions by the Quebec Soccer Federation disturbing. This past week, they have placed a total ban on turbans and other headgear, effectively barring baptised Sikhs from playing soccer. This is in direct contravention of FIFA rules, and a Canadian Soccer Association directive specifically allowing them on the field. Sikhs are currently able to play soccer with turbans or smaller coverings (known as patkas) in every province of Canada, except Quebec. The result of this ruling impacts children and young adults who love the game, but can no longer play with their friends and teammates.

Turbans are required to be worn by baptised Sikhs. They are not merely symbolic, but practical and protective headgear, as they believe their hair is sacred and must not be shorn. Turbans are made of soft fabric and are tied; not secured by pins. Many baptised Sikhs opt to wear smaller versions, known as patkas, when playing sports. No sports organization in Canada has deemed them dangerous, nor do they pose any reasonable risk to safety.

It is discrimination and intolerance of the most audacious kind. It cannot be allowed to stand.

Friends of Soccer will be organizing again to remedy this situation. In the past, we have shown that we can be effective in pressuring those in power to do what`s right for soccer.  This is a simple issue to solve, and if you believe everyone in Canada should have an equal opportunity to play soccer, I hope you will help.

Bill Currie
Friends of Soccer

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