It seems like xenophobia is still rearing its ugly head in parts of the world that you would think were a bit more receptive to a more progressive societal mindset.
In a story courtesy of ESPN FC, the Canadian province of Quebec, has banned Sikh children from playing soccer while wearing their turbans, telling them to “play in their backyards” if they refuse to take them off.
The Quebec Soccer Federation enforced the rule banning the head garment of the Punjab religion, in an attempt to protect the players. Now as many as 200 Sikh youngsters are prohibited from taking part in organized soccer and according to the director general of the provincial association, that’s the way it’s going to be if they don’t abide by the rules.
”They can play in their backyard, but not with official referees, not in the official rules of soccer,” Brigitte Frot, director general of the provincial association, told a media conference call when asked what she would say to a five-year-old who wanted to register for a team with their friends. ”They have no choice.”
Quebec is the only Canadian province to enforce such a rule and will continue to do so with the support of soccer’s governing body FIFA, according to Frot.
‘‘We have an obligation as a federation to put player safety first,” she said. ”FIFA has done this work for the hijab and, when they’ve done it for the turban, I have no doubt that FIFA will put out a directive authorising it and we’ll be happy to follow suit.”
Conservative MP Parm Gill, has tried to have the rule changed, writing letters to the province and Canadian associations, but his efforts have been fruitless so far.
“It is incredibly unfortunate and insulting that, in a nation that prides itself on diversity, such discriminatory regulations are allowed to stand,” he said in a statement. “There is no valid reason for a ban on the wearing of turbans or other religious symbols during athletic competitions.”
Canada proudly portrays itself as a country that embraces various cultures and encourages its citizens to practice their religious beliefs freely, so this is definitely a bad look.