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Canadian regional soccer body reverses turban ban

IANS  Montreal (Canada), June 17, 2013
First Published: 18:40 IST(17/6/2013) | Last Updated: 09:29 IST(18/6/2013)

In a big relief for the Sikh community in Canada, the Quebec Soccer Federation (QSF) has been forced to withdraw its turban ban on Sikh footballers.

The QSF has apologised for hurting Sikh sentiments. During a press conference on Sunday, it announced the reversal of its ban on players wearing turbans or related religious headwear on the pitch.

The QSF said it was pleased with the international soccer body FIFA's clarification on the issue, and it is "deeply sorry" if anyone was offended.

At the federation's Laval (Quebec) headquarters, QSF executive director Brigitte Frot said they were asking all referees in the province to allow turbans and similar head coverings like patkas and keski, as advised by FIFA.

"Our goal was always to have confirmation that the wearing of a turban was allowed by FIFA. And of course, we're delighted that FIFA was able to answer our questions and remove any ambiguity," said Frot.

The QSF's decision to ban Sikh head coverings triggered a public outcry in the country and also forced the Canadian Soccer Association (CSA) to ban the Quebec federation.

"As the governing body of soccer in Canada, we will continue to take all necessary measures to ensure the integrity of our game, our membership, and players," Victor Montagliani, president of the Canadian Soccer Association (CSA), said in a statement.

The CSA had in April issued a directive asking all its provincial and territorial member associations to allow male players to wear head scarves. But the Quebec federation was the only one that didn't adhere and were suspended.

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