Last week The Voice had carried a strongly-worded front page article denouncing the Quebec Soccer Federation for banning players with turbans and patkas (Banning Turbans & Patkas Is Racist on June 8). Now even the world governing body of soccer –FIFA– has come down heavily on the Quebec Federation.
Soccer’s world body has struck a blow against Quebec’s turban ban, saying such headwear is perfectly acceptable on the pitch.
FIFA said in a statement on Friday it is authorizing the wearing of male head covers at all levels of Canadian soccer. Quebec had said earlier, if FIFA clarifies its position they will lift their ban. Now Quebec has been left with no excuse to keep this ban in place.
The Voice had also criticised local politicians for not speaking openly against this prejudiced ban. This week we got many statements from all local MPs and leaders of NDP and Liberals speaking out strongly against the ban.
The Quebec Soccer Federation has welcomed this clarification from FIFA on this issue but has still not said that it is lifting the ban. But they have no choice now. This was a no-brainer from the start. And they have to lift this ban because everyone is equal. And those who play with turbans and patkas are just like everybody else.
The FIFA statement on Friday says the headwear must be the same colour as the jersey, look professional, must not be attached to the jersey and not pose any danger to players.
FIFA’s statement has come just four days after the Canadian Soccer Association suspended Quebec’s soccer federation for imposing this controversial ban.
The World Sikh Organization welcomed FIFA’s declaration.
“It’s been our position from the outset that the accommodation of the turban shouldn’t hinge on FIFA rules but instead on Canadian tradition on diversity and acceptance and also on Canadian rules and law,” said spokesman Balpreet Singh.
“This announcement is certainly good news, it’s absolutely clear now that any restriction on the wearing of the turban is illegitimate and we’re hopeful the Quebec Soccer Federation will now immediately lift its ban.
“The children should really be allowed to play as soon as possible.”
A community event planned for Montreal on Saturday will go ahead as scheduled, although under a different tone given Friday’s announcement.
Mukhbir Singh, vice-president for Quebec and the Atlantic region for the World Sikh Organization, says he’s thankful for FIFA’s stance.
He said the public support has been uplifting and refreshing.
He hopes the Quebec federation moves quickly to change its position.
“Whoever is affected by these recent developments, I hope they are all back on the field and no one misses another soccer game,” Singh said.
The community event in the city’s west end will go on as scheduled.
“Our goal was to rally together in a positive manner, to open a dialogue with the community,” Singh said.
“We didn’t want it to be a protest or a statement, we want it to be a positive event where we could explain that Sikhs are part of Quebec, we speak French and English and we’ve been here for a very long time.”