US SIKH STUDENT REMOVED FROM SOCCER GAME OVER TURBAN
WASHINGTON: A Sikh student in the US state of Pennsylvania was allegedly removed from a high school-level soccer (football) game by a referee for wearing a turban, according to media reports.
Officials from the Marple Newtown School District said the incident occurred on Tuesday when the high school student was playing against the Conestoga High team, according to WPVI-TV.
Witnesses said the referee did not allow the Sikh student onto the field because he was wearing turban in compliance with his faith.
The referee reportedly cited National Federation of High School Soccer rules that state: “Illegal equipment shall not be worn by any player. Types of equipment which are illegal include, but are not limited to helmets, hats, caps or visors.”
According to the Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic Association (PIAA), districts can apply for exemptions from such rules by requesting that certain players be allowed to wear religious items, said WPVI-TV, an affiliate of the ABC news.
Marple Newtown School District officials were informed about the incident and have initiated a probe to find out if the student’s religious rights were violated by the referee’s decision, it said.
In a statement, school district attorney Mark Sereni wrote, “Our district was surprised to learn about the incident.”
It added, “The PIAA apparently does not have a rule that reasonably accommodates the wearing of religious headwear by our student athletes who play soccer.”
“Our district is investigating this ruling and has advocated and will continue to advocate for the rights of our students to appropriately wear religious headgear,” Sereni said.