June 12, 2013
Quebec Premier Pauline Marois came out kicking in defence of the Quebec Soccer Federation's refusal to let turban-wearing kids play the sport, a position that has lobbed the controversial debate into the province's political arena.
The Canadian Soccer Association suspended the provincial association on Monday after the Quebec body showed no sign of overturning its decision to uphold a ban on Sikh religious head-wear. It says the suspension will remain in place until the Quebec organization lifts its restriction on turbans, patkas and keskis in organized soccer.
The Quebec premier took issue Tuesday with the CSA move and called it "unacceptable" for the national organization to punish her province's soccer federation.
The suspension prompted Marois, and several other Quebec politicians, to make their first public remarks on a contentious dispute that has made international headlines. Virtually all lawmakers in the Quebec legislature had avoided the politically thorny topic.
"I believe the Quebec federation has the right to make its own rules, it's autonomous, it's not bound by the Canadian federation," Marois, leader of the sovereigntist Parti Quebecois, said in Quebec City.
"In this regard, I support it in its orientations."