Sikhs win right to wear turbans when playing soccer

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The Quebec Soccer Federation (QSF) announced it has reversed its ban on players wearing turbans or related religious headwear on the pitch, saying it is pleased with the international soccer body's clarification on the issue, and it's "deeply sorry" if anyone was offended.


At a news conference in the federation's Laval, Que. headquarters, QSF executive-director Brigitte Frot said they are asking all referees in the province to allow turbans and similar head coverings like patkas and keski, as advised by FIFA — the Fédération Internationale de Football Association.

"Our goal was always to have confirmation that the wearing of a turban was allowed by FIFA. And of course, we're delighted that FIFA was able to answer our questions and remove any ambiguity," said Frot.

In response to the lifting of the turban ban, the Canadian Soccer Association has ended its suspension of the Quebec Federation which was imposed on June 10.

“As the governing body of soccer in Canada we will continue to take all necessary measures to ensure the integrity of our game, our membership, and players," Victor Montagliani, President of the Canadian Soccer Association (CSA) in a statement.


continue to source article at cbc.ca

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  1. What on Earth does it matter what someone wears on their head when playing soccer? A “safety” issue? really? I’d say that at least a turban would afford some modicum of protection over nothing at all when making a glorious header!

    • In reply to #1 by ArloNo:

      What on Earth does it matter what someone wears on their head when playing soccer? …

      Bet you muslims will then demand the right to wear niqabs and burkers next, even though they are not a religious requirement. (I believe that happened in the last Olympics to the Iranian women’s football team, they got disqualified because the team had initially agreed to the terms but then just turned up wearing them).

    • In reply to #1 by ArloNo:

      What on Earth does it matter what someone wears on their head when playing soccer? A “safety” issue? really? I’d say that at least a turban would afford some modicum of protection over nothing at all when making a glorious header!

      The issue goes deeper than allowing the religious to wear turbans and hijabs. More often than not, religion take some seemingly innocuous privilege and turns it into a vehicle of mayhem.

      Not even thinking too far ahead, what would you say if someone wanted to wear a dagger on their belt, while “making a glorious header”?

      Well, I’d like to introduce you to my football-loving Sikh friend, Akbar, who would like to wear his kirpan on his waist while playing a contact sport with 21 other players, none of which are wearing 16th century jousting armor.

    • In reply to #1 by ArloNo:

      What on Earth does it matter what someone wears on their head when playing soccer? A “safety” issue? really? I’d say that at least a turban would afford some modicum of protection over nothing at all when making a glorious header!

      Quebec embarrassed itself with the bogus “safety” claim. Then when they capitulated they claimed they had no objection all along, and they were just seeking “clarification”. Where do people get the chutzpa to tell such transparent lies?

      Why does it matter? Because the rules of soccer very specifically describe how you must dress. With a uniform, you have a level playing field. Either you have to ignore the rules or change them.

      The same issue would come up had the Sikhs got the notion that wearing shirt or shorts was wicked.

      Put more crudely, “whom the hell are you to tell us we have to change the rules of soccer just to accommodate your irrational superstitions? We don’t even accommodate rational concerns.”

      • In reply to #15 by Roedy:

        In reply to #1 by ArloNo:

        What on Earth does it matter what someone wears on their head when playing soccer? A “safety” issue? really? I’d say that at least a turban would afford some modicum of protection over nothing at all when making a glorious header!

        Quebec embarrassed itself with the bogus…

        As a Quebec resident I’m quite familiar with Quebec embarrassing itself. We’ve had a lot of practice and have brought it to a fine art. Examples abound and I could fill hundreds of pages with stories of incredible stupidity about all the things that are going on in this largely irrelevant part of the world. This football turban thing? That’s nothing, it is just the tip of the iceberg…

  2. These stories always leave me conflicted. On the one hand I genuinely couldn’t care less about Sikhs wearing turban’s to play football…but on the other I can’t stand the fact that the exemption has to be made because of the utterly irrational notion that giant sky fairies demand men not to cut their hair, thus necessitating such a head covering. Also depressing to read that the FIFA decision is an extension of a rule already in place to allow female player to wear hijabs, thereby further normalising the notion that women need to be “modest”.

    On a practical note, I would have thought that even a tight turban would start to unravel after a few hard headers…unless Sikh’s are advocates of “total football”.

    • In reply to #2 by paulmcuk:

      These stories always leave me conflicted. On the one hand I genuinely couldn’t care less about Sikhs wearing turban’s to play football…but on the other I can’t stand the fact that the exemption has to be made because of the utterly irrational notion that giant sky fairies demand men not to cut the…

      On the other hand, suppose they had banned men from wearing pink anywhere on their uniforms, because it was ‘girly’. While I agree it doesn’t matter (though there are arguements on both sides) should the QSF be even proposing such stupid and arbitrary restrictions at all?

    • In reply to #2 by paulmcuk:

      These stories always leave me conflicted. On the one hand I genuinely couldn’t care less about Sikhs wearing turban’s to play football…but on the other I can’t stand the fact that the exemption has to be made because of the utterly irrational notion that giant sky fairies demand men not to cut the…

      In the whole debate I never heard anyone ask the question does a turban give you an unfair advantage or disadvantage?

      • In reply to #17 by Roedy:

        In the whole debate I never heard anyone ask the question does a turban give you an unfair advantage or disadvantage?

        This is a very good point – at least as far as a possible advantage is concerned (if it’s a disadvantage, that’s their problem). Although a turban is unlikely to provide a player with more accuracy or power in a header, it could give a slight height advantage when defending a corner or free-kick.

        FIFA say it’s currently allowed on a trial basis, which seems reasonable. But they need to determine quickly whether or not it provides an advantage and ban it from open competition if it does.

  3. This is a rather complex for me. On the one hand, who cares? It’s a non-threat that is unlikely to change play in this game. Sport itself is subject to overhype and completly tribal as a component of the human condition. Flags, facepainting, a goal is a ‘kill’, us against them, group loyalty and identity with victory (we are better). Everyone survives until the next match. It’s great fun. Valuable, yes certainly for jobs and owners and no doubt the athletes. But sports as if Everything There Is To Do In The World Forever, no thanks.

    So why does this issue seem forced at some level? I see the kid being interviewed by the news, a heartbreaking injustice of extraordinary wrongdoing. A CRIME against humany equality. Stopping a kid from playing THE beloved game just because he wears a turban, c’mon! How could you be so …evil? Well, he can still play, so that is not the issue. The issue is what specific grown-ups have made it, namely based on a belief that marks a faith. Cultures that do not wear turbans clearly do not have this problem. The issue is that the ‘injustice’ of disallowing a turban… or any other religous artifact if you want to go there…is unfair because it’s, well, discrimination specifically on… us.

    And that becomes the issue in strange captive kind of way for all of us who do not wear turbans. None of us want to be THAT person who chooses to be a closed-minded turban hating purist in sports, or anywhere. Wear your turban, your right. Come to other multi-culture that does not, awkward.

    Turban rights win, maybe it’s right, but I wonder where this goes, and I wonder why you could not take off the headgear just for the respect for the rest of us who don’t wear it? Where is the line when we include all the cultures in the world that play this (and other) sports?

    Seems to me it’s the pressure of the accusation of descrimination that bugs me more.

    • In reply to #3 by PY:

      Turban rights win, maybe it’s right, but I wonder where this goes, and I wonder why you could not take off the headgear just for the respect for the rest of us who don’t wear it? Where is the line when we include all the cultures in the world that play this (and other) sports?

      I don’t think so!
      There is likely to be a considerable disparity in the number of headed goals between turban wearers and non-turban wearers. Defenders are also likely to have problems with headed back-passes to goal-keepers.

      Still – in American football, they all wear funny helmets anyway!

  4. While wearing a turban is hardly a reason to stop someone competing in a game of football, we can now look forward to Pastafarians wearning noodle strainers on the heads and Warlocks running around the pitch on broomsticks.

    Anyone for yogic soccer?

    • In reply to #5 by Vorlund:

      While wearing a turban is hardly a reason to stop someone competing in a game of football, we can now look forward to Pastafarians wearning noodle strainers on the heads and Warlocks running around the pitch on broomsticks.

      Anyone for yogic soccer?
      Sikh cricketers wear some kind of a bag arrangement over their hair. It would be very awkward to do a header in a full turban.

    • In reply to #5 by Vorlund:

      While wearing a turban is hardly a reason to stop someone competing in a game of football, we can now look forward to Pastafarians wearning noodle strainers on the heads and Warlocks running around the pitch on broomsticks.

      Bring on the Jedi light sabres. (I would pay good money to see that)

  5. From the FIFA guidelines:

    “The basic compulsory equipment must not contain any political, religious, or personal statements.”

    So the turban cannot be part of an official kit which means it must fall under the perview of the following guideline:

    “A player may use equipment other than the basic equipment provided that it’s sole purpose is to protect him physically…….”

    A turbans sole purpose is not for protection, so now my understanding is that FIFA must have changed the rules of the game after caving into religious pressure.

    That is quite annoying.

  6. When I first saw this story I thought, oh for pity sake. Leave the kids alone. Stop meddling in their game. This is racism. Then I thought some more, and decided they came to the wrong consensus. You should resist religious bullying. To explain why I came to that conclusion I am going to make up a hypothetical situation.

    Another religious group, seeing how successful the Sikhs were at dominating the spotlight for a month, decided to do something similar to help proselytise. They pointed out they too are discriminated against. They can only play in stadiums where every seventh seat has been pulled out. They were not quite sure why this was a life and death matter. It might have something do with leaving seats for angels to enjoy the game. The soccer coaches countered, “We too have a long standing tradition, of filling all the seats. It would be nuts to leave seats slots empty when there were people wanting to sitting them. Further your sister sect, insist all seats be filled on pain of death. Further it would be very expensive to remove the seats. You have no right to impose your goofy religious traditions on others.

    So it seems me Sikhs have no rights to demand special treatment, basically to have rules of the game of soccer (which requires a leveling uniform) changed to accommodate them for mere superstition. On the other hand, since the accommodation is fairly minor, I am not surprised the non-Sikhs granted it out of politeness.

    I have a feeling this may not end well as other religions also demand special concessions. I think of that woman in England with the large crucifix. The contest is supposed to be about soccer skill, not religion.

    I am skeptical about the sincerity of the Sikhs. If they were not trying to advertise their religion, just play the game, they could have lobbied for protective head gear, which with a bit of ingenuity could count as (or cover) a turban.

  7. The heat of the controversy might make more sense if you imagined at issue was changing the rules in some minor way a game more sacred to you such as baseball, American football, cricket, tennis or rugby.

  8. broughtyboy, Soccer is a derivative of the term association football and is UK English in origin.
    Personally I think if sikh tradition requires them to always wear turbans and if doing so denys them the chance of playing football then who gives a damn, let them play in their turbans. If it contravinesFifa rules then all the more reason to support it, Fifa is a self serving money grabbing dictatorship, lead by the joker Blatter who makes Iran look like a fair democracy.

  9. This reminds me of the huge kerfuffle a number of years ago when a Sikh man joined the RCMP, and received special permission to be allowed to wear his turban, instead of the traditional stetson (which has been part of the uniform .. forever). From my perspective, we’re just kowtowing once again to people’s superstitious beliefs .. er um .. religious beliefs.

  10. Whilst reading these comments I have come across a similar notion for each one. It’s the fact that no-one seems yet to understand the importance of the turban for a Sikh. Through my research of Sikhism, I have found that the turban is not an “irrational notion that giant sky fairies demand”, but rather a form of identification as a practising member of the Sikh religion. From my understanding, it dates back to 1699, where it became a part of the uniform for a Sikh, and even before that the previous Gurus wore the turban. In this way (if you look into Sikhism and the relationship with the turban) , the turban is not only a piece of clothing as many people will see, but a part of the person. It becomes who they are. So I can sympathise with Sikhs now that I have gained an understanding as to why they wear the turban at all. It’s not religious bullying, it’s just being able to play football, whilst retaining who they are. Should there even be an issue about this? The fact that some people feel that Sikhs shouldn’t be able to wear the turban during the game in the first place( even though it does no harm, as pointed out) and should have to change it, is an issue.

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