Canadian soccer body fights back for Sikhs’ rights

Montreal, June 11 (IANS) The Canadian Soccer Association (CSA) has stood up for Sikhs’ rights and suspended the Quebec Soccer Federation (QSF) for not allowing Sikh footballers to play wearing their turbans or patkas.

CSA’s board of directors Monday decided to suspend the QSF for their non-compliance to the directive of allowing the wearing of turbans/patkas/keski by soccer players.

“The Canadian Soccer Association has requested on 6 June that the Quebec Soccer Federation reverse its position on turbans/patkas/keski with no resolution,” said Victor Montagliani, president of the Canadian Soccer Association, in a statement following the Board of Directors meeting.

“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 suspension will be lifted once the CSA receives assurance that the QSF has lifted the ban and applies satisfactorily.

Quebec’s Sikh community, however, is reacting cautiously.

“We’re trying to figure out the implications of what this means,” Mukhbir Singh, vice-president of the World Sikh Organization for Quebec and Atlantic Canada, was quoted in The Gazette.

“At the end of the day, are the children (who wear turbans) going to play this season or next season? That’s the most important aspect of this story and what we’re trying to understand.”

In a statement issued Monday by the World Sikh Organization of Canada in Ottawa, president Prem Singh Vinning said: “Whereas Sikh children were initially the victims of the QSF decision to uphold the ban on the turban, it is now doubly unfortunate that so many other soccer players in Quebec will also have to suffer the consequences. This entire episode has been completely unnecessary and senseless.”

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