Tuesday, June 04, 2013

Quebec Soccer Must End Discrimination Now.

The right for everyone to play soccer should not be a debate in 21st Century Canada. The best aspects of soccer culture are in tune with our biggest aspirations for Canadian society. Diverse, inclusive, tolerant and accepting of others is who we are a nation and what we are as the world's sport.

The Quebec Soccer Federation`s blanket ban on turbans is an affront to our values and our laws. It flies in the face of FIFA`s official rules regarding headgear, and the CSA`s official directive specifically allowing turbans and patkas.

It is audacious intolerance and discrimination hiding behind beauraucracy.

First, a bit of background. 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.

These are approved for wear by every known sporting association in Canada. They are approved and worn during soccer games in every province in this country.

Except one.

The QSF`s argument that FIFA laws are confusing regarding the issue issue is completely false and selective. FIFA`s official interpretation of the rules regarding equipment and headgear specifically empowers referees to determine whether headgear poses a risk, and directs them to ``show tolerance when authorising their use, particularly for younger players."  The Canadian Soccer Association has issued a directive specifically allowing turbans, patkas, headscarfs and Hijabs.

So, on a sporting level there`s no confusion. On a legal level, there`s no contest. The QSF has opened themselves up to potential discrimination and human rights battles they have virtually no hope of winning. The scale and scope of this discrimination is so clear and damaging.

There is no need for a single Sikh player in Quebec to go one day more without playing and enjoying soccer. The solution is simple.

The QSF must end this discriminatory practice now. Today. Not study it, not consider it, not debate it. They must end it and they must end it now.

If they do not, the  Canadian Soccer Association must take whatever means are necessary to end it at once.  They are the sport`s national governing body, and FIFA`s representative in Canada. They cannot allow a provincial association to so blatantly flout its directives, especially when they prevent children and young adults from a specific faith from playing the game.

And if the CSA fails to act immediately in the best interests of our sport and communities, we will. Whether it happens through organizing public pressure or through legal means, Friends of Soccer will not allow this discrimination to stand. When we are finished, no one will be illegally forced to choose between their sport and their faith. That is the only result possible in the end.

It is clear the Quebec Soccer Federation is standing on the wrong side of history. They can choose to walk to the right side themselves, or we will carry them there. The choice is theirs.

Bill Currie,
Friends of Soccer


Darryl Levine said...

Thanks for taking this on.

Darryl said...

Thanks for taking this on. I recommend pressuring the major sponsors. Here's a tweet:@SaputoInc, @RDSca, @FedProdLaitQc, and @CoucheTardQc: withdraw support from @FDSDQ until they end their foolish ban on kids wearing turbans.

Darryl said...

I recommend targeting sponsors too. Here is a tweet you can use: @SaputoInc, @RDSca, @FedProdLaitQc, and @CoucheTardQc: withdraw support from @FDSDQ until they end their foolish ban on kids wearing turbans.