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Monday, February 26, 2007

Muslim girl forced to leave soccer field for wearing head scarf

Dismayed that a referee wouldn't allow a player on the pitch wearing a traditional Islamic head scarf, an Ottawa coach pulled his team from a massive indoor soccer tournament in Laval, Que., yesterday and vowed never to return to the tournament.

"It was a no-brainer," Louis Maneiro said before leaving the ARS Laval National tourney with his girls under-12 competitive team. "I said, 'That's it, we're not playing.' "

Controversy erupted during the Nepean Hotspurs' third game of the tournament when the team's second line stepped onto the field.

The referee said 11-year-old striker Asmahan Mansour couldn't play because she was wearing a hijab.

After trying to reason with the ref and the tournament convener, Maneiro pulled his team from the remaining games, with full support from the players and their parents.

A tournament organizer said not allowing players to wear hijabs is a safety concern, not a religious one.

"It is not at all a question of religion," Carole Fortin said. "The referee of the match is himself a Muslim. There is no place for racism here." [Link]

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