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Jun 11, 2013

Turban ban: Federation suspended

A provincial Canadian football federation has been suspended by the Canadian Soccer Association (CSA) over its refusal to allow Sikh children wearing turbans to play in official matches.

The CSA said it had taken the action against the Quebec Soccer Federation after it gave no indication of overturning the ban, which has been widely condemned and created a political backlash.

The governing body said it had expected the Quebec federation to reverse its decision, and had opted for the suspension when that did not happen.

It said the suspension would be lifted once the federation had proven that it had revoked the ban.

Earlier this month, Sikh youngsters who want to play football in Quebec while continuing to wear their turbans were told they would have to "play in their back yard".

The Quebec Soccer Federation said the move was being taken for safety reasons, and it means as many as 200 young players are unable to play.

''They can play in their back yard, but not with official referees, not in the official rules of soccer,'' Brigitte Frot, the director general of the association, said. ''They have no choice.''

Quebec's is the only federation in Canada to take such a stance. It led Conservative MP Parm Gill to write to both the Quebec and Canadian associations, expressing his disappointment at the situation and urging a compromise.

"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."