Tuesday, June 11, 2013

OSG High: Soccer Teenagers Make A Statement In Quebec (UPDATE: Quebec Is Mad, FIFA Sides With CSA, And QSF Backs Down)

((HT: CBC News Network))

A little primer here...

The Quebec Soccer Federation has banned players from wearing turbans on the soccer field...

Here's the story at the time of the ban...

The Premier of the province, Pauline Marois, can't believe that the Canadian Soccer Association has suspended her province's federation and she is backing her fed.

A local coach gave his team the chance to show their support for the Sikh kids who, at present, aren't allowed to play.

Ihab Leheta doesn't have any Sikh kids on his under-14 team, but he told his players they could do something...

All his players wore turbans in support of the others and Leheta told the Montreal Gazette why he did why he did...

“I told them you can either say: ‘It’s not my problem,’ or you could decide to do something to help out.

“I was so proud of them, (they understood) that today it’s Sikhs (being banned) and tomorrow it’ll be someone else.”

Liberal leader Justin Trudeau released the following statement supporting the recent actions in silent protest like Leheta's:

“The Canadian Soccer Association is right to suspend the Quebec Soccer Federation for its turban ban. It is unfortunate that we are dealing with such an inexcusable situation in 2013.

As I mentioned during my speech at the Khalsa Day parade, these children do not deserve to be barred from playing sports. Here in Canada, we are proud of our Charter of Rights and Freedoms that guarantees and protects religious freedom.

I would like to applaud those who have taken a strong stance on this issue, such as the Brossard soccer team that stood in solidarity with the Sikh community. They represent the Canada we want our children to inherit: one that does not tolerate division or fear.

Our country has benefited immeasurably from the contributions of the Sikh community, and Canadians are proud of the cultural vibrancy and diversity of our beautiful country.”

THURSDAY UPDATE: Sue Montgomery at the Montreal Gazette pursues the issue...

Now, there's a thought that if there is no resolution, Quebec athletes could be out of the Canada Games in August...

Montgomery talked to a local sociologist, Gerard Bouchard, who thinks that the whole saga makes the province look like they haven't advanced as a society:

The disagreement has now become so polarized, it is difficult for both sides to save face and have a cool debate, he said. That sets a bad example for everyone, he added, especially the children.

“Let the kids play together,” he said. “It doesn’t infringe on anybody’s rights, it doesn’t cause chaos, it doesn’t hurt anyone.”

FIFA rules leave it up to a referee’s discretion as to whether headgear is safe and urges them to use tolerance, especially with young children.

In April, the Canadian Soccer Association sent a directive to its provincial and territorial federations, including Quebec, to allow the turbans or patkas. The Quebec federation now finds itself shunned after defying the directive.

The QSF is trying to reach some kind of "settlement" with the CSA so all of this can be avoided further. But what will, more likely, happen is the PQ will continue to crow about how the province should be the group to dictate policy- and fly their index finger in the face of the national body as long as they can...

Dawna Friesen has the Ontario version of affairs...
((HT: Global News))

FRIDAY UPDATE: FIFA is siding with the CSA...

Here's their statement:

“(FIFA) authorises the CSA to permit all players to wear head covers … in all areas and on all levels of the Canadian football community...”

The caveats are that "the headcover must be the same color as the jersey; must keep with the professional appearance of the player’s equipment; and must not be attached to a jersey or pose any danger to the player wearing it."

And the World Sikh Organization is thankful:

“It’s been our position from the outset that the accommodation of the turban shouldn’t hinge on FIFA rules but instead on the Canadian tradition of diversity and acceptance and also on Canadian rules and law,” said spokesman Balpreet Singh.

“This announcement is certainly good news. It’s absolutely clear now that any restriction on the wearing of the turban is illegitimate and we’re hopeful the Quebec Soccer Federation will now immediately lift its ban.

“The children should really be allowed to play as soon as possible.”

And here's more reaction from the World Sikh Organization...
((HT: CTV News Channel))

SATURDAY UPDATE: The QSF has backed down...

“It has been our intention from the onset to get a confirmation that the FIFA allowed wearing of turbans, patkas or keskis,” said the Quebec federation’s executive director, Brigitte Frot.

“We are very happy that the FIFA has responded to our request and by the same token dispelled the ambiguities created by a lack of clarification.”

“Our intervention was solely from a technical point of view and had absolutely nothing to do with religious matters or political views,” she said in defending the federation’s actions.

“We sometimes had difficulty communicating our intentions over the last few days. If we have offended or appalled some people, please know that it was not intentional nor voluntary and we are deeply sorry.”

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