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Ontario teams pulling out of Lac St. Louis soccer tourney over turban ban

  • The Quebec Soccer Federation has a ban on turbans and other Sikh head coverings.
    The Quebec Soccer Federation has a ban on turbans and other Sikh head coverings.
    Photo credit: John Kenney, The Gazette

This story has been updated.

Due to the contentious issue of the Quebec Soccer Federation’s stance to prohibit players from wearing turbans, about 20 teams from Ontario have pulled out of a Lac St. Louis tournament set to be held across the West Island this weekend.

Lac St. Louis Regional Soccer Association’s director Édouard Saint-Lô confirmed Thursday that 20 Ontario-based teams pulled out from the 25th edition of its outdoor national tournament set for June 15 and 16 since their travel permits were rescinded due to the QSA being red carded this week by the Canadian Soccer Association over its steadfastness to maintain its turban ban.

“The withdrawal of these teams has caused an imbalance in several divisions involving the remaining 150 teams. The organizing committee is trying to fill the vacancies by soliciting teams currently on the waiting list,” he stated.

If not enough replacement teams are found last minute, some participating Quebec-based teams could receive a rebate if they don’t play more than two games.

The Lac St. Louis tournament  features teams from U-9 to the senior level, with U-7 and U-8 invited to play in a festival portion of the event. Only teams from registered provincial associations are eligible to participate. Registration fees ranged from $250 per team for U-7 up to $450 for senior. Each team is supposed to be play a minimum of three games.

The U-10 and younger kids play seven-a-side matches and the U-11 to senior play the full 11-a-side field. The levels range from recreational soccer to A and AA.

Organizers billed the tournament as “a full weekend of soccer emphasizing the quality of the soccer experience.”

16 comments

  1. While it is often considered uncommon, sometimes Quebec does get something correct.

    Any athlete, amateur or otherwise, should be involved in his sport for the reason of personal achievement, and if appropriate local, regional or national pride and representation. Nothing more.

    The cross, yarmulke/kippah, hijab, turban or any other accoutrement related to religious (or in some cases cultural) observance does not belong on the playing area. If the observant party cannot or will not adapt to this, then he must have his fun outside organised sporting events, at pick-up games or other “fun” events as appropriate.

    This whole argument would not even exist if the matter in question were swimming, or diving, or any number of other activities where the inappropriateness was more evident.

    It is regrettable that this has been turned into a politically religious debate when it isn’t.

    If any observant person wishes to make a statement about his religion or culture, there are venues for this — including the door-to-door approach practised by some adherents in some religions.

    However, in the sporting venue, it should be disallowed. Period.

    • They aren’t making a statement about their religion; they are required by their religion to wear the turban. It’s not fair to make someone choose being the rules of their religion and the rules of their league.

  2. By West_Islander

    I wonder what the total economic fallout from this controversy will be? Just this one event has a direct impact on hotels, restaurants, shops, gas…etc.

  3. This is very a very frustrating issue for anyone who loves and plays the game because it’s clear that soccer is being used a toy by politicians and the media. The game is beautiful for many reasons; one being that religion is not present on the field. No one is Christian, no one is Jewish, Muslim etc…..You are defenseman, a striker, a midfielder and part of a team. For 90 minutes no one is associated to a religion, a political party, or any other form of ideology. Before every game as a child, and even today, I can recall being required to remove any form of jewelry, often the sole piece being a small chain and cross representing a link to my Christian faith. I did not refuse to remove it because if I did, I would have ruined the game for many of my peers. No exceptions were made for any religions, and nor should they be made in this situation. I am against the used of turbans on the field simply because it’s not part of the game. The soccer field is not a church nor it is not a temple, and the sole form of worship taking place should be the game itself. I do not believe wearing turbans on the field poses a security risk to a player or an adversary any more than wearing a cross and chain around one’s neck. However, as a player I can asserts, if one truly wants to get technical, that wearing a turban can create a potential unfair advantage (if the player has any talent of course) when heading the ball. The game of soccer is being used as some sort of catalyst to promote political views which the media is helping to exacerbate. That said, I wonder how many people would be sympathetic towards the use of turbans in hockey, or lacrosse?

  4. Turbans in hockey? No, because it obviously wouldn’t work and therefore that’s why most Sikhs don’t play hockey. They have, however, played soccer for years until the QSA decided that it no longer ‘worked’ for them. Jewelry on the other hand is EXTREMELY dangerous in most sports. In softball, I once saw a girl slide into second based wearing an earring and she punctured her throat and almost her jugular…. In basketball, a girl got her finger caught in another’s necklace and almost lost that finger…. A little more extreme I think! Let’s allow intelligence and safety to mark our decisions and not our political views or our fear of accepting others.

  5. By John Mcac

    I was manager of a boys inter-city team for several years, ( AA ) until kids reach a level where a standard uniform is required without exception, ( pros ) preventing a child from playing because he or she needs to cover their head is flat out wrong. We toured the Province with our boys, some had food restrictions because of their religious beliefs, do you think we forced them to eat something they couldn’t ? of course not, they had no choice in the matter, ditto these young sikh boys, common sense and compassion are lacking here. I bailed on “the beautiful game” when my son grew out of it, ( most kids do ) right now i’m very glad i did !

  6. RedMtl – typical small town response from a MTLer who thinks they’ve figured something out no else has. Reality check Quebec is an international laughing stock (see NYTimes, BBC). Blame it on backwards immigration policy favoring french speakers (Haitian, Moroccan, etc) over countries like China, India (future superpowers). In the rest of Canada, Sikhs with turbans risk their lives protecting Canadians as RCMP, Police and Military. So yeah if they want to send their kids to play soccer and let them cover their long hair with a piece of cloth (safer than letting the hair down and distracting players) its fine by me.. oh yea and the rest of the world too. The PQ is making this political to score points, don’t be sheep… remember Hérouxville?? lol wake up

  7. To Mr. RedMtl and Peter,

    These are kids we are talking about NOT professionals. KIDS going out and exercising and having fun with other kids. Period. The rules everyone is talking about is in place for the safety of the child.

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