The Quebec Soccer Federation on Saturday morning announced it's going to align with a ruling FIFA made two days earlier and allow Sikh men to wear religiously prescribed turbans on the soccer pitch. The federation also expressed regret that its ban on turbans was seen as racist, saying it was only meant to protect players' safety.
Actually it had been only a few days since the Canadian Soccer Association suspended Quebec's soccer federation because of the ban. The fracas got so loud that Quebec's premiere, Pauline Marois, had condemned the condemnation: "It's sad and it's disgraceful and it's reprehensible."
Maybe the ban wasn't "racist" per se, but one of the great things of living in 2013 is the threshold for what constitutes racism is lower than ever. When a governing body makes a ruling that affects if not applies to only one group or class of people — yeah, it might get slapped with the "R" word. Humans are gradually coming around to the idea that when you capriciously fuck with one of us, you fuck with all of us. Which is why, according to the National Post's John Ivison, club soccer players in Quebec were circulating instructions on how to tie a turban: "We're all Sikhs now."
His diagnosis on the ban, incidentally:
I don’t particularly buy the idea that the QSF move is motivated by some deep-seated francophone antipathy to any kind of religious display. I think it is much less nuanced than any complex arguments about identity and reasonable accommodation.
Rather, I suspect it reflects official Quebec’s feverish distemper to control everything in its own small fishpond, like an unarmed North Korea. ...
This sad chapter seems entirely in keeping with other bone-headed moves made by Quebec’s leaders just because they can.
The province’s grievance culture seems to elevate people who, because they want to boss other people around, are, ipso facto, least suited to do it.
So maybe it was less racist, more fascist. But Ivison also writes that he was once booted from a soccer game for wearing shorts with pockets. Also, he seems to be Canadian. So trust him at your peril — you know how those people are.
Photo credit of recent Indian protests against banning Sikh turbans in French schools: AP