This week, the Quebec Soccer Federation announced that it will no longer allow Sikh players to wear a turban during gameplay, citing safety concerns. We are heartened that many in the Quebec media and elsewhere have rightly spoken out against the Federation’s decision, which has widely been described as “nonsensical”.
In response, the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs’ Chairman of the Quebec Local Partner Council, Eric Maldoff, wrote to the Quebec Soccer Federation, expressing our belief that the turban poses no risk to player safety and asking that the policy be rescinded to allow Sikh youth to fully participate in Federation games. Below is the text of the letter, translated into English from the original French version.
June 5, 2013
President, La Fédération de Soccer du Québec
955 Bois-de-Boulogne Avenue, Suite 210
Laval, QC H7N 4G1
Dear Mr. Prud’homme,
The Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs has been following with great interest the decision by the Quebec Soccer Federation (QSF) to uphold its policy that disallows Sikh players from wearing religious head coverings on the soccer pitch.
We certainly commend the Federation’s desire to ensure player safety. That said, we firmly believe that Sikh head coverings pose no risk to the safety and well-being of players. On the matter of turbans, FIFA regulations appear to be silent, although the international regulatory body has accommodated other forms of religious head coverings during game play, as indeed is the case with the hijab for women. We also note that Sikh head coverings have been readily integrated into the uniform standards of police services in Canada and in the Canadian Forces.
Sporting activities (especially the beautiful game) are international in their scope and therefore create a real opportunity for youth from all backgrounds to unite around a shared experience and a common goal. And through this contribute to promoting mutual respect and understanding. Inclusivity in sport can help make societies stronger and participating in sport can help make children and youth healthier.
For the above reasons, we respectfully request the Fédération reconsider its ban on turbans and other Sikh headgear and allow members of the Sikh community to fully participate in the most popular sport in the world alongside fellow Québécois.
I look forward to your response.
Eric Maldoff C.M.
President, Le Centre consultatif des relations juives et israéliennes (Québec)
CC: Marie Malavoy
Ministre de l’Éducation, du Loisir et du Sport
1035, rue De La Chevrotière, 28e étage
Québec (Québec) G1R 5A5