Montreal Impact president Joey Saputo calls for "common ground" on Quebec turban issue

Joey Saputo

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MONTREAL – Montreal Impact president Joey Saputo called for dialogue between the Canadian Soccer Association and the Quebec Soccer Federation on Tuesday, hours after the CSA suspended the provincial body over its ban on turbans.

Earlier this month, the QSF banned turbans from the field of play “for safety reasons,” which caused uproar in Canadian political circles. The QSF invoked FIFA’s Law 4 which states that “[a] player must not use equipment or wear anything that is dangerous to himself or another player (including any kind of jewellery).”

After urging the QSF to change its position – a unique one among the provinces – the CSA suspended the provincil federation on Monday night. While the suspension will not affect his club, Saputo weighed in on the controversy on Tuesday morning.

“Personally, I don’t think we should stop a child from playing soccer at the youth level because they wear a turban,” Saputo said in a statement on ImpactMontreal.com. “However, I understand the decision made by the Quebec Soccer Federation based on a FIFA rule that allows for interpretation. Comments accusing the QSF of racism are misplaced in regards to the context with which the federation made its decision.

“The Canadian Soccer Association made a recommendation and did not officially state its position to provincial federations. Furthermore, the decision by the Canadian Soccer Association to suspend the QSF is exaggerated. All parties involved must find some common ground for the good of the sport.”

READ: Full statement from Impact president Joey Saputo

The controversy was among the discussions at Impact training on Tuesday.

“If it is a safety issue, I can tell you this: I’d rather drive my face against a turban than Jordan Harvey’s head,” defender Jeb Brovsky told reporters, referring to the Vancouver Whitecaps player with whom he collided last month, suffering a broken nose. 

Brovsky, who went on a mission to India in 2011 with his Peace Pandemic organization, continued: “Traveling the world, you see children that want to play the game, regardless of their religious beliefs. It’s always a sad day when you take a child off the field for any reason. Hopefully the situation gets resolved and people are happy with it.”