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Quebec football federation suspended over turban ban

Last week Brigitte Frot said players who wished to play in a turban could “play in their backyards.”

File photo: Vancouver Whitecaps' Russell Teibert celebrates.
File photo: Vancouver Whitecaps' Russell Teibert celebrates.
Image: DARRYL DYCK/The Canadian Press/Press Association Images

THE CANADIAN SOCCER Association has suspended its Quebec affiliate over the province’s decision to ban turbans on the football pitch — a move that has angered Sikh groups.

In a statement, the sport’s national governing body said it acted after a June 6 request to the Quebec Soccer Federation to reverse its position on players wearing the head garments was ignored.

Quebec is the only province to institute such a ban on turbans, which are worn by many Canadian Sikhs.

“The Quebec Soccer Federation’s inaction has forced us to take measures in order to ensure soccer remains accessible to the largest number of Canadians,” Canadian Soccer Association president Victor Montagliani said.

Montagliani said the suspension would only be lifted when Quebec agreed to remove the ban.

A week ago, Quebec federation chief Brigitte Frot provoked a public outcry when she was quoted by local media as saying that if Quebec children wanted to wear a turban while playing football, they could “play in their backyards.”

She has cited safety concerns as the reason for the ban.

Immigration Minister Jason Kenney called the ban “ridiculous” while opposition Liberal leader Justin Trudeau said in a Twitter message: “Barring kids from playing soccer because they wear a turban is wrong.”

The president of the Montreal Impact soccer club, Joey Saputo, said while he personally disagreed with the ban, he thought the suspension was “exaggerated” and urged both sides to “find some common ground for the good of the sport.”

- © AFP, 2013

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