Quebec Soccer Federation has no rational reason for banning turbans

Canada: The Quebec Soccer Federation’s decision on Sunday to maintain its ban on turbans and other Sikh headgear is, no pun intended, wrongheaded. Worse, its arguments in defence of the decision are specious. Quebec should join the rest of the country and lift a ban that has barred a specific group of children and adults from playing a game they love.

The Quebec Soccer Federation (QSF) didn’t even ban turbans until last year, when it suddenly became an issue, possibly as the result of a complaint from a player who was offended by the sight of them on his opponents’ heads. Whatever the impetus, Sikhs were suddenly told last June they could not play soccer while wearing their turbans, or even smaller versions of the turban called keskis and patkas. For observant Sikhs, this has effectively amounted to banning them from the pitch during games.

The QSF has never adequately explained its reversal. Its current stand is that turbans are banned for safety reasons, and also because FIFA, soccer’s international governing body, doesn’t allow them. It would be hard to think of two less convincing arguments. There is no evidence whatsoever from any quarter that turbans pose a threat to player safety. Turbaned players were happily and safely playing soccer in Quebec for a decade before the ban mysteriously arose last summer. In April of this year, the Canadian Soccer Association urged its provincial counterparts to allow turbans. If there is a safety threat, only the QSF knows what it is, and it has yet to share this information.

As for the FIFA justification, it’s true that turbans are not included along with cleats, socks, shorts and a shirt on the list of equipment players are allowed to wear during a FIFA-regulated match. That amounts to a ban on turbans, but FIFA recently began letting female Muslim players wear headscarves without explicitly adding them to the list of permitted gear. FIFA’s message has lately been one of open-mindedness, not one of strict adherence to rules at the expense of players’ religious obligations.

And anyway, why is a provincial soccer federation that governs children’s and recreational leagues obsessing over FIFA rules? FIFA requires regular blood-doping tests: Will the QSF implement those this summer when 10-year-olds get together to play soccer?

The Quebec Soccer Federation’s decision is arbitrary, indefensible and unfair. Once all the rational reasons for the turban ban are eliminated, that leaves only the irrational ones: fear and intolerance. Let the kids play soccer.

Source: The Globe and Mail


  1. I’m from Québec and I can’t believe what’s being said in the media and the web this week… I have one question : why is it not possible for young sikhs to remove their turban for a couple of hours ? Would that be considered as a blasphemy ? What happens when a sikh has to wear a safety helmet at work – and remove the turban ? Thanks.

  2. I am also glad I don’t live in ‘your’ country, have no intentions either. Since this new rule only implemented in one state it shows you your type are a minority. Religion (s) have been around for long time and would remain for long time. Time will tell who really is God! By the way my turban matters to me and that whats important like your new secular age is to you.
    Best wishes.

  3. Wayne Colegate

    I am glad you do not live in our country, and since you don’t perhaps your comments and how you feel about the situation don’t really matter… your turban. I believe 5 generations in the country give me citizen status and enough so to want to protect the culture we have established. We do not want to seer it changed to accommodate any religion, yours or any other type. You keep saying to keep religion out of it but that’s what it is all about. We are swinging into a non secular age where science is the new “god”. If you choose to live in the past and cling to nonsense it is wise that you are not in our country.

  4. My education has nothing to do with it. I don’t live in ‘your’ country. (By the way you don’t own the country, you or are an immigrant or descendant of immigrants like most western countries colonised by Europeans).
    Your are entitled to your belief are rest of us, therefore keep religion out of it. If Other faiths are allowed to wear head gear so should be Sikhs in Quebec.
    There is a difference between religious place and parliament. If I wore a turban and was asked to take it off to go a church. Then it will be my choice to remove the turban or not go, respecting the religious sentiments. What people believe is personal. I think you should grow up and accept at over 50 years of age that world has changed there is no place for political fundamentalism which you are advocating. Come out of your cocoon.

  5. Wayne Colegate

    I have played baseball, hockey and lacrosse at many levels for 50 years and never have seen anyone wearing a turban in any league, on any team that I was ever acquainted with. I have never been called a nazi before and I am not fond of it. I prefer to be called a non secular Canadian. One who knows the difference between science and nonsense. You may be correct about India and Pakistan allowing the turbans but what if I went into a mosque with shoes on, or became a member of your parliament and demanded that everyone wear baseball hats instead of turbans. Either of those filthy overcrowded countries simply kill the people or remove them who disagree with their policies. We have been far more obliging. Too much in fact.
    You have heard the expression “when in Rome”? In Canada when we sit down to eat we remove out hats, when the National anthem plays we remove our hats, in Parliament we remove all hats before session begins….why should this national tradition be adjusted for a cult? Any religion that is a mere 300 years old is even worse than the Christians, Jews and Muslims at 2-6000 years old. It is utter nonsense and if you are educated ….I doubt that based on your English language skills, you would clearly see that silly cult traditions that are handed down from family to family are nothing more than brainwashing. The free country we have is becoming non-secular as our schools are now teaching the truth. Prayer has been removed (as it should be) and fantasy has no place in today’s world. Grow up, if you don’t like our soccer rules or our attitude go back to your native land and fix it.

  6. “If you make a choice to believe in fictitious gods then you sacrifice a lot of other choices.”

    Wayne, your freedom ends at the moment it interferes with anyone else’s. People can wear or believe in whatever they damn well want. What you’re arguing for is the most virulent form of political fundamentalism available.

    There’s a reason that societies which grant religion freedom are consistently rated the best places to live. Liberty is always a good thing.

  7. Your comments prove how short sighted you really are. Sikhs play hockey with turbans and many other sports. In India and Pakistan there is no ristriction on what you wear in the parliament or sport. In UK and other countries Sikhs and Muslims are allowed to wear what they like. In a free and secular country this should be allowed. My be you think canada is not should be run by narrow minded people who still have Nazi and facist ideology. What Sikh wears not dictated my the Sikh Temple. It was given to them by the
    founders of the Religion over 300 years ago.

  8. Wayne Colegate

    One more thing ….it has everything to do with a god…..this is a religious garment dictated as traditional wear by the Sikh temple. That makes it a cult in fact. It has nothing to do with race and everything to do with antisemitism. I am opposed to religion in general and I could care less what country or ethnic background one is as long as they don’t flaunt mythology in the face of a non-believing public and ASK us to change to accommodate them. We have gone too far already. I do not want to see a member of parliament wearing a turban and sporting an ugly looking beard. Our parliament has always had its rules and they have been diligently followed until a Sikh was elected in a predominately Sikh area. Instead of making him conform to Canadian law we silently and against the will of the people changed to shut him up. Completely ludicrous and would not happen in India, Pakistan or any country run by Sikhs or Muslim.

  9. Wayne Colegate

    They are not allowed in Football, hockey, baseball or lacrosse, so which sports precisely are you referring to? Perhaps cricket?

  10. I disagree strongly with the above comment. Every other sport allows sikhs to wear Turbans. so why should soccer be different. This has nothing to to do with whether you believe in God or not. Keep God out of it. The decision is racist and it will be always be supported by racist narrow minded people.

  11. Wayne Colegate

    Actually there is a very definite reason for this decision. Turbans and all the various paraphernalia that go with all religions have no place on the sports field. If you make a choice to believe in fictitious gods then you sacrifice a lot of other choices. It is time that religion got a negative response from a government agency. If people wearing all the cult garments whatever their choice of religion want to hold that strongly to mythology and nonsense than perhaps they should live in a country where that belief is the majority. In Canada we have had a regulation in the House of Commons that no one wears headgear out of respect for the tradition of our country…..that was changed to accommodate Sikhs…that was inappropriate. As was the decision to allow a change in the RCMP regulations and local police forces. My question is would India make similar changes if a Canadian wanted them to?
    If I want to enter a mosque and leave my shoes on I will be forbidden entry they will not change the rules for me. When a religion tells people what to wear, how to wear it, when and how to wear their hair and beards or when religion arranges marriage and has a caste system, then it is actually a cult. It has nothing to do a with any kind of faith. This is 2013 we all know the world is 350 billion years old and there is no god. Lets get rid of the trappings that are holding the brainwashed masses hostage.

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