Decision defended in Quebec hijab controversy
CTV.ca News Staff
Published Monday, February 26, 2007 11:31PM EST
Given that a provincial election is going on, the politicians waded in.
On Monday, Quebec Premier Jean Charest defended the referee's actions in the weekend tournament.
"One of the practices around soccer is not only the sport itself on the field, but also the behaviour of the players and how they're expected to behave towards each other and the rules around how they are dressed," Charest said.
"My understanding is that the referee applied the rules of the soccer federation and that's why that decision was made," he said.
Charest said he played soccer as a boy and recalled a referee telling players to tuck their shirts into their shorts.
"It's a case of safety in sports," said Mario Dumont, leader of the Action democratique du Quebec.
Asmahan Mansour, 11, of an Ottawa-area team was ejected from the game for running afoul of the Quebec Soccer Association rule.
The referee first addressed the issue when Mansour, who was not in the starting line-up, substituted for another player.
"It was my turn on the field, and as soon as I went on the field, the referee pointed at me and said get off the field," she told CTV Montreal.
He made a gesture that she should remove her hijab, and then pointed to the bench. The referee said she could not play for the under-12 team as her head scarf posed a danger to other players.
Her coach, Louis Maneiro forfeited the game and pulled the team from the tournament in protest.
Five other Ottawa-area teams followed suit, four of them affiliated with the Nepean Hotspurs but in other age groups.
Maneiro has said he is interested in hearing what the Canadian Soccer Association, which is looking into the incident, has to say about the matter.
Parents of players on the team, the Nepean Hotspur Selects, have argued that Mansour played in other games during the tournament, in Laval, Que., without complaint from other officials
The rulesThe guidelines of F�d�ration Internationale de Football Association (FIFA), soccer's international body, do stipulate that a player can't wear anything that can be dangerous to any player.
Valmie Ouellet of the Quebec Soccer Federation said the uniform, shinguards and shoes are all that are allowed under the rules.
But international FIFA rules do not specify anything about wearing hijabs, or any religious headgear.
"It definitely isn't a safety issue. It's just a piece of cloth that's on her head, and the way she was wearing it, it was tucked in her shirt ...," said Maria Mansour, Asmahan's mother.
The broader subject of reasonable accommodation has been in the news in Quebec after the town of Herouxville, comprising 1,300 mostly white, French-speaking residents, adopted a code of standards for immigrants.
The code stipulated that: Women should be able to show their faces in public and should also be permitted to drive and write cheques. And it is "completely outside norms to... kill women by stoning them in public, burning them alive, burning them with acid, circumcising them etc."
The resolution has no legal weight but is the code by which the town expects its residents to abide.
Earlier this month, the town council changed some of the wording in its controversial code of conduct, including the removal of the phrase "stoning of women."
With a report from CTV Montreal's Daniele Hamamdjian and files from The Canadian Press