My take on the QSF turban ban

5 06 2013

I’ve been a soccer referee for 11 years. Players wearing religious symbols is nothing new, and has always been a grey area. The Quebec Soccer Federation has finally made up its mind. Are they right, are they wrong, isn’t really the point.

The problem is that the reason for the ban, which is player safety, is ludicrous. No one will get injured because of a turban, it’s just common sense! Why did QSF come up with such nonsense? My feeling is that they were afraid of people saying it would give players wearing a turban would give them an unfair advantage (bear with me, here). Have you ever tried a header in soccer? It can hurt if you don’t do it properly. Or, alternately, they were afraid that some people would come up and, out of pure jealousy, say “Hey, if he’s allowed to wear that rag on his head, why can’t I wear my baseball cap?”. And if you think that such complaints are farfetched, you most likely have never been involved in amateur sports in your life.

Or perhaps safety really is a concern? Remember some years back, when kirpan in school caused a huge uproar? Defenders of the kirpan said that it was a peaceful symbol, that no one would dare use it as a weapon. Few months later, one bad apple of a sikh used his kirpan to threaten a schoolmate. Is the Quebec Soccer Federation afraid that someone would load his turban with a brick or with a sockfull of nickels?

In the end, the Quebec Soccer Federation took the decision to point to player safety to justify their decision to ban the turban, which sound a lot better than “Quebecers are a bunch of jealous bigots”. But in the end, they could’ve just grown the balls to actually accept the turban like the rest of the country does.

Oh, but wait, this is PQ territory, right?

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