A 15-year-old Sikh boy was asked by a referee to remove his ‘Patka’ (under-turban) during a football match in Spain, saying that wearing “a hat” is prohibited according to game rules.
In all previous matches, referees allowed Gurpreet Singh from Arratia C team to wear his Patka, the Sikhexpo’s Instagram page said quoting La Vanguardia newspaper.
“He has been playing normally for at least five years, even in his first year as cadets and so far this season. We have never had the slightest problem,” Pedro Ormazabal, president of Arratia, told the paper.
“It has been something that has been carried out with absolute normality,” he said, adding that the whole situation was “humiliating” for Gurpreet.
The Arratia players, who were to play against the local Padura de Arrigorriag team, interceded on Gurpreet’s behalf to explain that it is an element linked to his religion.
But with the referee insisting on the rules, Gurpreet’s teammates decided to leave the field as a sign of solidarity.
“The kids were the first to support him. The coach was also very clear… Afterwards, he received the support of the rival team, and from the families that had attended the game,” Ormazabal was quoted as saying in the Instagram page.
Gurpreet is set to return to the competition with a hope that the situation that occurred will not be repeated.
“I hope the referee is open to learn more on this and not as stubborn as he reacted that day. But I am glad to see the solidarity of the team! Much respect,” Jaskeerat Kaur, an Instagram user, commented.
According to a FIFA ruling, male football players can wear turbans during matches.
Young boys from the Sikh community wrap their hair in a smaller under-turban called a Patka, with their hair knotted on top of their head.