Pauline Marois backs Quebec's soccer turban ban
Quebec Premier Pauline Marois is defending the Quebec Soccer Federation’s ban on turbans, which had triggered a national outcry over the controversial issue.
The move to uphold the turban ban has led to the suspension of the Quebec group’s membership from the national soccer organization.
The Canadian Soccer Association, which governs the sport in Canada, said after attempting to negotiate with the provincial federation, it had to intervene because there was no sign that the QSF would overturn its decision to restrict Sikh turbans, patkas and keskis on the soccer pitch. The CSA announced its decision to suspend the Quebec Soccer Federation late Monday.
Marois, leader of the sovereigntist Parti Quebecois, said Tuesday that it’s not the place of the Canadian Soccer Association to suspend a provincial soccer federation.
She said the Quebec soccer body is autonomous, has a right to establish its own rules and is not bound to the Canadian association.
Meanwhile, the Quebec Soccer Federation will hold an emergency meeting of its 18 regional presidents on Tuesday evening to discuss the ban. The meeting will be closed to the public.
The federation plans to offer a formal comment on the ban Wednesday.
The CSA reports directly to FIFA, soccer’s world governing body, and is responsible for granting or revoking the membership of provincial federations.
The national organization has said it wants to ensure that soccer remains accessible to the largest number of Canadians and has instructed all provincial bodies to allow players with turbans onto the pitch.
Quebec's federation is the only one to have refused, a decision that has drawn condemnation from various quarters, including several federal politicians.
Both Immigration Minister Jason Kenney and Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau applauded CSA’s decision to ban the Quebec federation and condemned the turban ban via Twitter on Monday night.
The QSF says it imposed the ban because of concerns about safety. It also points out that FIFA rules don't specifically allow turbans.
Critics of the Quebec decision note FIFA's rules don't explicitly ban turbans, either.
The national body says it will lift the suspension once it has proof the Quebec federation has revoked the ban.
The president of Canada’s World Sikh Organization said there have been no incidents of turbans posing a safety risk while playing soccer.
“Soccer is played right across every province of this great country of ours, it’s played internationally,” Prem Singh Vinning told CTV News Channel on Tuesday. “Nowhere has this become an issue. Sikh children across the world play soccer, this was never a concern.”
Vinning added that he’s hopeful the Quebec Soccer Federation will reverse the turban ban following Tuesday’s meeting.
“(Quebec) has the opportunity to do the right thing,” he said.