Quebec soccer: Take off turban or stay home
Published Monday, June 3, 2013 3:06PM EDT
Last Updated Tuesday, June 4, 2013 8:16AM EDT
MONTREAL—Quebec soccer will not back down from its turban ban, telling those who refuse to comply with the rule to go “play in their backyards.”
The Quebec Soccer Federation announced Sunday it would maintain a ban on turbans, falling in line with world governing body FIFA. Quebec is the only federation in the country to follow the international regulation, citing safety concerns for its crack down on turbans, patkas and keskis--the religious headgear worn by Sikh men and boys--in the last year.
“I can’t talk for (the other federations) but for us, the security for players is the most important (thing). We don’t want to take any chances,” Brigitte Frot, director-general of the Quebec Soccer Federation, said on Monday. “They can play in their backyards but not in official (games) or with a referee.”
Frot said the ban applied to all headwear, such as a hijab or kippah.
Despite the Canada Soccer Association calling for provincial associations to allow turbans, Quebec said safety was paramount.
“We don’t want to take any chances. It was the same with the hijab,” Frot said. “We want to make sure it’s correct and secure. We are following FIFA rules.”
FIFA is scheduled to test safety concerns with the turban next year. Frot said the federation would comply with whatever conclusion emerges, reversing the decision if FIFA decides too.
Frot said the federation had received no report of players getting injured as a result of head wear. She refused to comment on the issue’s sensitive aspects, such as religious freedom.
Frot noted that girls are now permitted to wear headscarves on the field in Quebec, following a directive from FIFA in 2012.
The latest move comes despite a directive from the Canadian Soccer Association in April calling for provincial associations to allow them.
Quebec previously banned a teen in 2011 from working as a soccer referee while wearing a hijab.
Quebec’s federation oversees recreational leagues.