COLUMN: Discriminatory soccer turban ban an insult to all Canadians

Quebec Soccer Federation must reverse its decision to not allow turban-wearing children to play soccer.

The decision by the Quebec Soccer Federation (QSF) to ban turban-wearing players from playing the game of soccer is not only discriminatory, but an affront to all Canadians across this country who believe in the beauty of Canada’s multicultural spirit and its Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

The Canadian Soccer Association’s recent suspension of the QSF may certainly help in pressuring the provincial soccer federation to remove its turban ban. The form of discriminatory bullying carried out by QSF is appalling in today’s day and age and is a blemish on the multicultural tradition of this country. It both segregates and ostracizes turbaned children who simply want to play the game of soccer.

As a proud Canadian, I enjoyed playing the game of soccer as a child. As a turbaned Sikh, I never faced any discrimination on the soccer field. The very nature of this sport promotes diversity and teamwork, with young children of all backgrounds interacting with one another and collectively coming together to achieve a common goal. All I can remember of those fun days is an enjoyable game of soccer, accompanied with laughter and happiness eating oranges at break time and participating in exciting tournaments.

What will children, who have been banned by the QSF over the past year, remember of their childhood soccer experience? A committee of adults simply do not have the common sense to see just how damaging their actions could be on a Canadian society that is so accepting of differences and actively promotes the multicultural mosaic of this nation.

The QSF has supported its actions under false justifications of player safety. However, even from a purely objective standpoint, how many cases of injury can QSF attribute to the turban? Where is the empirical evidence which states that “X” number of turbaned soccer players have caused injuries on the field?

QSF’s attempts at tying discriminatory policies to so-called safety precautions simply have not withstood the public pressure and outcry from Canadians. Nowhere else in Canada, for example, does such a ban exist.

Furthermore, QSF says that it is simply following FIFA guidelines. However, nowhere does FIFA explicitly state any sort of ban on turbans. Additionally, QSF’s unilateral decision to ban turbaned players offends the millions of international soccer players and thousands of soccer federations around the world.

No organization has the right to set up its own discriminatory barriers. The very origins of soccer, dating back thousands of years, have roots in almost all parts of the world, including Europe, Asia and South America.

In the wake of this unfortunate decision by the QSF, one thing is certain – the multicultural spirit is well and alive in this nation, and has been stirred to action by QSF’s ignorant decision. There has been great protest from Canadians of all colours, races and religions from across this country. This is the true Canadian spirit. One only has to visit news websites or online petitions to see that the majority of Canadians are fully opposed to the actions of the QSF.

An online petition that I recently started (http://www.change.org/en-CA/petitions/quebec-soccer-federation-allow-sikhs-to-wear-turban-while-playing-soccer) calling on the QSF to remove its ban, for instance, has gained signatures from Canadians of almost every different colour and race, including Quebecers. 
In a society that is becoming more aware of bullying and mental health problems, it is utterly disappointing that an organization would carry out an action that runs counter to the progress that we are making on these issues. According to various academic studies and scholarly publications, discrimination can have many negative ramifications, especially for children. It can lead to mental health issues such as depression, anxiety, and can affect the self-esteem of children. 
The recent action by the QSF has sent a wake-up call to Canadians across this country that our concepts of multiculturalism and diversity must be guarded very strongly. We must never forget how imperative it is that we maintain the delicate balance of fundamental freedoms and equality rights set forth in the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

QSF: Your actions are not representative of Canadian principles. It is time for you to remove this ban and apologize for your actions, so that all Quebecers can finally enjoy the sport of soccer.

Japreet Lehal is a student at Simon Fraser University Surrey. He writes regularly for The Leader.

japreet@live.ca

Surrey North Delta Leader

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Claiming she has COVID-19, stranger coughs in Cloverdale woman’s face

Clayton Heights woman will now self-isolate for the next two weeks

Police watchdog finds cops blameless for deaths in 2019 Surrey hostage-taking

Woman was killed as ERT officers fired on man holding a knife to her throat and ‘what appeared to be’ a gun in his hand

No, Delta police are not pulling over cars to check for social distancing

DPD dispelling rumour cops pulling over vehicles with two or more people, checking IDs, issuing fines

White Rock/South Surrey experts launch website of mental-health resources

Together White Rock/South Surrey aims to help ease the search for supports

‘We will get through this’: B.C. sees new COVID-19 death, but 57% have recovered

A total of 1,066 people have tested positive for the novel coronavirus

Association launches French-language games, online tools for families learning at home

Games, culture and vocabulary included in new virtual resources

‘There can be no ambiguity’: Travellers brought home to B.C. must self-isolate

Health Minister Adrian Dix said the mandatory isolation must be abided by

55+ BC Games cancelled amid COVID-19 concerns

Greater Victoria set to host 2021 event

BC Hydro offers three-month bill ‘holiday’ for those affected by COVID-19

Industrial customers can defer half of their power bills

VIDEO: Dog missing in Lower Mainland since winter sees his family again for the first time

Aldergrove helped find Buster, says dad, who has now witnessed ‘the power of social media’

Some April Fool’s Day jokes bring much-needed laughter; others tone deaf to COVID-19

Police are warning the public not to use the ongoing pandemic as a punchline

Canada’s 75% wage subsidy is coming, but not for several weeks: finance minister

Subsidy will cost Canada $71 billion, but push down cost of emergency benefit, Morneau said

Call before you dig into spring projects during isolation: BC 1 Call

BC 1 Call gives free checks for utilities in the area of a desired outdoor project

Most Read