Sikh footballer told to remove turban
AN under-age football club is expected to lodge an official complaint with the FAI after a 12-year-old Sikh boy was ordered to remove his turban during a game.
Karpreet Singh had worn his turban during matches without incident for four years before a problem arose during a recent schoolboy game in Co Meath. The youngster was told by the referee to remove the 'headgear' during the first half, and didn't return to the pitch for the second.
"It happened with about 10 minutes gone in the game," Surinder Singh, a spokesman for the Irish Sikh Council, told the Irish Independent last night.
"The referee told him to remove the 'headgear'. The boy said that he couldn't expose his hair, and his teammates rallied around him."
It is understood the boy was asked a number of times to take off the 'headgear', but that the game eventually resumed with him still wearing it.
Karpreet has played with the Hillcrest team from Ashbourne for four years, captaining the team on occasion.
"Eventually the referee allowed him to play on, but when Karpreet went in at half time he stayed in and didn't play the second half. He told his coach he didn't want to play."
The Sport Against Racism Ireland (SARI) group confirmed it was aware of the incident.
Co-founder Frank Buckley said that the FAI had signed up to 10 Uefa principles in encouraging social and religious integration in football.
One of those principles involves making referees and officials aware of players and supporters from different ethnic and religious backgrounds.
"I think he was being authoritarian rather than racist," Mr Buckley said.
"He said he would sit down with the family to explain his actions."