In a press release from the worldwide organization UNITED SIKHS, it stated that they are “disheartened to learn that a 15-year-old Sikh soccer player was asked by the referee to remove his turban during a football match on February 4, 2023 in Spain. The young Sikh was playing in a game between Arratia C and the rival Padura de Arrigorriaga. The referee turned towards Gurpreet Singh in the first few minutes of the second half and ordered him to remove his turban. What happened next is a testament to the spirit of gamesmanship and a remarkable gesture of humanity. UNITED SIKHS learned that both the teams showed solidarity with their colleague by leaving the field in protest against the referee’s discriminatory and unfair ruling.”
According to the statement shared by Manvinder Sigh, Director of Advocacy of United Sikhs, the referee’s action caused a painful and traumatic experience for the young Sikh. “Any conduct or action that targets a Sikh’s articles of faith, such as turban is discriminatory,” said Manvinder Singh. “Turban [patka] is an integral part of the Sikh faith. It is worn by approximately 27 million Sikhs around the world. Not only does it symbolize spiritual grace for Sikhs but it is also considered part of their identity and no Sikh is supposed to part with it,” he added.
The referee’s ruling was wrong. A FIFA panel known as the International Football Association Board issued a landmark decision in 2014, allowing turban to be worn during matches. This came in response to the Quebec Soccer Federation’s attempts to discriminate against and ban players who wore turbans.
Despite the FIFA decision, the problem still persists. This latest unfortunate event is a testament to the fact that more education and training on cultural sensitivity and anti-discrimination is needed. The FIFA ruling is a good start in order to making the playing fields free from discrimination and harassment for players of different countries and backgrounds.
The football-specialized outlet INFOCANCHA, has reported in an article written by Remigio Frisco that the president of the Aratea club, Pedro Ormazabal, explained: “He has been playing informally for at least five years, in his first year as a cadet and so far this season. We’ve never had a single problem. However, he added the other day that the situation was also “humiliating” for the youngster.
Ormazabal points out that:
UNITED SIKHS have voiced their intention to take this opportunity to for launching
Tags: #ICHRA, #sikh, #SikhIdentity, #Turban #CivilRights, #UNITEDSIKHS