Referee 'Told Sikh Boy to Remove Turban'

December 14, 2008

Author: Henry McDonald

Source: The Guardian

Football authorities in Dublin are investigating allegations that a referee tried to force a Sikh boy to take off his turban during a schoolboy match.

The family of Karpreet Singh and anti-racist campaigners have contacted the Football Association of Ireland over the alleged incident at Ashbourne in Co Meath a fortnight ago, which ended with the 12-year-old refusing to play in the second half.

The FAI has told Sport Against Racism Ireland and the Singh family they will meet them in the new year to discuss claims that the referee ordered the boy to remove his turban, then refused to talk to Karpreet's father after the game about his alleged remarks. Surinder Singh said that his anger over the alleged incident was compounded by what he claims was the referee's insensitivity when the game was over.

'Before the match the referee checked the two teams' boots and strips and the game began. He said nothing about anyone wearing anything on their heads,' he said. 'Then, 10 minutes into the match, he went over to my son and told him to remove the "headgear". Karpreet told the referee he couldn't take his turban off, and again the ref said to him to take the "headgear" off.

'The match went on and I could see that Karpreet was upset by the incident. When the team went in for half-time, Karpreet told his coach he didn't want to play in the second half. I knew he wasn't up for it. The whole thing had disturbed him and this is a boy who loves football.'