LAVAL, Que. – The Quebec Soccer Federation said Wednesday it is maintaining its ban on turbans, patkas and keskis while hoping to hammer out a compromise on the controversial topic.
The Canadian Soccer Association suspended the provincial body on Monday after it showed no sign of overturning its decision to prohibit Sikh religious headwear on the pitch.
Quebec federation officials issued a short statement Wednesday saying the controversial ban remains in effect for the time being, but that they will do everything it can to re-establish dialogue with the CSA.
The CSA has said the ban will remain in place until the Quebec federation lifts its restrictions.
Earlier this month, the provincial body decided to uphold the ban despite a CSA directive in April that called for provincial associations to extend an existing rule that allows Islamic hijabs for girls.
Quebec is the only province that has balked at the directive and says it wants soccer’s governing body, the Federation Internationale de Football Association (FIFA), to issue a ruling on turbans.
The Quebec federation has said it made its decision with player safety in mind, although it has no evidence that shows turbans pose a risk.
Quebec referees began cracking down in the last year on turbans, patkas and keskis _ the religious headgear worn by Sikh men and boys.
A provincial soccer official suggested that kids who wear the banned items can “play in their backyard. But not with official referees, not in the official rules of soccer.”
The Sikh community says the ban means 100 to 200 children must either ditch a religious requirement or quit playing organized soccer.
Quebec Premier Pauline Marois said this week that it’s unacceptable for the Canadian body to suspend the provincial organization.
The province’s sports minister, Marie Malavoy, repeated that line on Wednesday, saying the government supports the provincial federation to do what it thinks is right.
Malavoy said the neither the government nor any of its arm’s-length bodies were involved in the soccer federation’s operations.
The Quebec federation said Wednesday it wouldn’t grant any interviews.
“To give every possible opportunity for discussion, we do not wish to comment further on the situation, whether in the media or in public,” the statement said.
“We hope for the fastest possible resolution to this impasse.”