Quebec Soccer Federation to reveal turban decision in 10 days
Published Tuesday, June 11, 2013 7:56PM EDT
Last Updated Tuesday, June 11, 2013 11:13PM EDT
MONTREAL-- The Quebec Soccer Federation has made a decision concerning its ban on turbans on the soccer pitch but will only reveal it in 10 days, according to the Canadian Press.
The Canadian Soccer Association suspended the provincial association on Monday after it showed no sign of overturning its decision to to uphold a ban on Sikh turbans, patkas and keskis on the soccer pitch.
The Quebec soccer brass met Tuesday evening to discuss strategy in the wake of the suspension but decided not to reveal what they concluded.
The group vowed that they are working towards finding a solution to the standoff, which is increasingly taking on the proportions of a national crisis.
Premier Pauline Marois and her ministers continued expressing disapproval with the suspension. “I find it unacceptable," Marois told a media scrum Tuesday. "I think the Quebec federation has the right to make its own rules. It’s not subject to the Canadian federation in that respect.”
PQ Cabinet Minister Bernard Drainville reiterated Premier Marois’ stand that the Quebec federation has the right to make its own decisions, but Drainville, who is the minister responsible for democratic institutions and citizen participation, would not personally comment on whether he himself supports the ban.
Quebec Sport Minister Marie Malavoy said that she feels bad for the price that the young soccer players would be forced to pay under the ban, particularly since the Canada Summer Games in Sherbrooke is a mere two months away.
“I’ll be attending the Canada Summer Games in Sherbrooke very shortly and I know that there are some young people who are the best at what they do and dream of going. I just wish the Canadian association would leave us alone and allow us to take out own decisions because it’s the young people who will suffer in the short term.”
The Canada Soccer Association issued a statement saying that it had been forced to suspend the Quebec Soccer Federation for failing to “ensure soccer remains accessible to the largest number of Canadians.”
The Quebec organization cites safety concerns for banning turbans and points out that the world governing body, FIFA, doesn't specifically allow turbans.
But critics counter that FIFA's rules don't explicitly ban turbans, either.
Marois, leader of the sovereigntist Parti Quebecois, said she supports the orientations of the Quebec body's decision.
The Quebec Soccer Federation did not immediately return calls Tuesday about the suspension. It is expected to hold a meeting on the matter later Tuesday, and then it will speak with reporters.
The national organization said last week it expected the Quebec association to reverse the ban, which has drawn international news coverage and condemnation from several federal politicians. It says the Quebec organization will be suspended until the turban restriction is overturned.
It's unclear how the suspension might affect Quebec's soccer players. A spokeswoman for the Canadian Soccer Association said Tuesday that she did not have specific details on the suspension.
The impact, however, could be felt in a variety of ways unless the situation is resolved soon, according to Canadian Soccer News.
Its website said the suspension could prevent Quebec all-star teams from playing outside the province, and even cancel games within Quebec that involve a nationally certified referee. If the suspension lasts a long time, Quebec youth teams could also be blocked from participating in national championships, the Canadian Soccer News reported.
On Tuesday, even the president of Major League Soccer's Montreal Impact weighed in on the turban-ban debate.
Joey Saputo said in a statement that kids should not be prevented from playing soccer because they wear a turban, but added that he thought the Canadian Soccer Association's decision to suspend Quebec's federation over the issue is "clearly exaggerated."
He said the Quebec organization's decision to ban turbans was based on a FIFA rule that is open to interpretation.
Saputo added that accusations of racism against the provincial federation were uncalled for considering the context of the Quebec body's decision.
"The Canadian Soccer Association made a recommendation and did not officially state its position to provincial federations," said Saputo, who also urged those involved to resolve the situation.
Shortly after the suspension was announced Monday, some of those who opposed the ban said they welcomed the national body's tough-love approach.
Immigration Minister Jason Kenney tweeted his approval: "Good to see CDN Soccer Association take action against the Quebec Soccer Federation over its ridiculous turban ban."
Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau echoed the sentiment, tweeting that "Barring kids from playing soccer because they wear a turban is wrong. The CSA is right to suspend the #QSF."
Quebec Liberal parliamentary chief Jean-Marc Fournier said that the entire debate was neither in the interests of the youth or the sport. He urged that the turban ban be repealed.
The CSA reports directly to the FIFA world body and is responsible for granting or revoking the membership of provincial federations.
One Brossard team showed its support for the Sikhs by sporting the headgear in solidarity. The team borrowed 20 turbans from a local Sikh temple and wore it throughout their most recent game.
Coach Ihab Leheta said the idea came up in a pre-game meeting. “I said, ‘we have a game tomorrow, we can forget about it because it doesn’t affect us, or we could actually do something to show support’ and they all wanted to do something,” said Leheta.
The opposition coach was less impressed.
“He asked me, ‘What are you wearing on your heads? Why are you doing this?’ I explained it to him that the boys felt that it was unfair that kids couldn’t play. And he said, ‘I think it’s stupid.’’
-With a file from The Canadian Press