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    Monday, September 05, 2005

    Calgary Soccer Player Banned For His Patka

    Stardate 4508.5

    Langley, BC - Parents and coaches of a Calgary junior soccer team are angry after a Sikh player was barred from a game for insisting on wearing his religious headscarf.

    Northwest United was competing in a tournament in this Vancouver suburb when a referee told 17-year-old Gurindar Durah could not wear his patka, a scarf young, religiously observant Sikhs are required to wear.

    This is the sort of treatment that incites racial problems. Perhaps the official was trying to be a rule stickler, but apparently, after telling the Calgary coach that FIFA disallows wearing turbans or patkas, it was discovered that there is in fact, no such rule. The young player swore at the official and left the match. His entire team also walked off after the ruling by the official.

    I don't know if swearing helped the situation but a big handshake to his team-mates and coach for supporting him. I lived in Africa, in Swaziland for a number of years and the school I went to was full of kids from all over the world. We had the greatest, diverse, cultural melting pot you could imagine. The best player we had on our soccer squad was an East Indian. I think we would have all walked off too...

    Of course, the tournament folks are saying he was kicked out for swearing, but that doesn't sound right to me. I understand that the organizers canmake up whatever rules they want, but in some cases, religious rules simply must take precedence.

    It has happened on much higher levels, with the RCMP in fact. In that case, it was ruled that a Sikh officer can indeed wear his turban which is obviously not official RCMP regalia.

    In 1924, in Paris, Eric Liddell refused to run his race on the Sabbath. Being a devout christian, he refused to take part in sport on the day of his worship. Instead of defaulting the loss, the officials finally decided to swap competitors and races so that he could run the next day in a different race.

    In this case, the official simply has to understand that there are more cultures, religions and races in our great land than just cut-out soccer players. If Canada is truly to be as diverse as we claim, then guys like this need to go...

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