FIRM AND RESOLUTE SUPPORT OF INCLUSIVITY FOR SIKH CHILDREN: NDP

Ottawa, Canada: With recent news of the Quebec Soccer Federation’s decision to ban Turbans, New Democrats are calling for a quick resolution.

“If there are no safety concerns with a Sikh child wearing a turban and there appear to be none, then there are no reasons to prevent them from playing soccer” said Lysane Blanchette-Lamothe (Pierrefonds–Dollard).

Lysane Blanchette-Lamothe who represents one of the largest Sikh constituencies in Quebec has been actively working with Sikh children and their families over the last year to help facilitate a resolution.

On April 25th members of the NDP Quebec Caucus, Lysane Blanchette-Lamothe and Helene Leblanc (LaSalle-Emard) wrote directly to FIFA on behalf of the Sikh community.*

“Because this rule prevents children from practicing this sport, even at a recreational level, without any justification, on behalf of our constituents, we would request you to look over this matter and make the appropriate changes to ensure these children can play with their teammate. We think we have a responsibility to allow children of our communities to be able to play soccer with their peers. We are therefore requesting that the rules on wearing turbans/patkas/keski by male soccer players be revised as soon as possible to enable all young boys to play soccer with their peers,” said Blanchette-Lamothe and Leblanc in their letter addressed to FIFA.

While speaking in Parliament yesterday, Minister Gosal disingenuously accused New Democrats of not taking a position.

“Minister Gosal and the Conservatives must stop playing political games.  We have been crystal clear in our position – let’s remove the politics from this and let the children play,” said NDP Immigration, Multiculturalism and Citizenship Critic Jinny Sims (Newton-North Delta).

“Soccer is the most popular sport among Canada’s youth and vitally important to the promotion of sports and health.   New Democrats believe that sports should be inclusive, not exclusive,” added NDP Sports Critic, Matthew Dubé (Chambly—Borduas).

New Democrats have a record of standing up for Sikh articles of faith, even when others have not.  In 2001, the NDP was proud to introduce a motion in the House of Commons to recognize the importance of the “5 K’s”, the religious articles of faith for Sikhs, but it originally failed to pass when the Liberals refused to support it. Eventually, a motion to recognize the “5 K’s” was accepted by all parties in 2006.

New Democrat’s will continue to support Sikh families and children and urge the Quebec Soccer Federation to reconsider their decision and begin dialogue with the Sikh community in order to resolve this matter.

April 25, 2013
Mr. Sepp Blatter, President
Fédération Internationale de FootballAssociation
FIFA-Strasse 20,
P.O. Box 8044 Zurich, Switzerland

President Blatter,

We are writing this letter to you to express our concerns over the fact that Sikhs from across Montreal
have been told they will not be permitted to play soccer with their turbans.

Recently, on April 17, 2013 the Canadian Soccer Association took the decision “to extend this ruling to
the wearing of turbans” and thanked the associations for making sure that “soccer be accessible to
everyone.” http://globalnews.ca/news/489474/quebecs-soccer-federation-says-no-turbans-on-thepitch/ Despite this decision, the Fédération de Soccer du Québec (FSQ) refuses to allow Quebec’s
children of Sikh faith to play soccer while wearing their turbans/patkas/keski. The federation refuses to
enact the decision of the national authority on the grounds that the wearing of the turban would violate
FIFA rules – rules that will be enforced by the FSQ. Last year, it was reported that Sarah Benkirane, a
referee in the ARS Lac St-Louis, was told that she could not wear her hijab on the soccer field. In
response, on October 25th 2012, FIFA made a rule change allowing girls to play with headscarves as
long as they were safe and legal. Unfortunately, the FSQ and ARS have confirmed that they will still
enforce the ban on Sikh boys who wear the small turban since FIFA rules only apply to girls in the upcoming soccer season.

Because this rule prevents children from practicing this sport, even at a recreational level, without any
justification, on behalf of our constituents, we would request you to look over this matter and make the
appropriate changes to insure these children can play with their teammates.

We are unsure as to why FIFA would apply their rule changes only for girls. It should be noted that the
turban does not touch the neck area. Does FIFA believe that there is safety issues involved with the wearing of the turban on soccer fields?
We think we have a responsibility to allow children of our communities to be able to play soccer with

their peers. We have already made exceptions to official FIFA rules in the past. An example of such an
exception, which we would presume was mandated to facilitate inclusion and fairness for all children, is
the requirement that all players receive equal playing time. We are therefore requesting that the rules
on wearing turbans / patkas / keski by male soccer players be revised as soon as possible to enable all
young boys to play soccer with their peers.

Please accept, Sir, our distinguished salutations.

 

LysaneBlanchette-Lamothe MP                    Hélène Leblanc MP
Pierrefonds-Dollard                                           Lasalle-Emard
NDP Critic for Seniors                                       NDP Critic for Science and Technology

Source: NDPCOM@Parl.gc.ca

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