Sikh footballer singled out by referee for wearing religious headwear
An FA official came under fire for delaying a United Counties League match after telling an amateur football player to remove his religious headwear.
Gurdeep Singh, 21, was warming up with his team for their away fixture against Huntingdon Town FC.
The Leicester Nirvana player was told by the referee he couldn’t play because he was wearing a patka (commonly known as a bandana).
Team mates refused to play until Gurdeep was allowed on the field, and there was a delay whilst club officials rectified the mistake with the League.
The game kicked-off 15 minutes later and Gurdeep scored both goals for his team as they went on to win 2-1.
He said: “I was shocked more than anything rather than upset.”How you can expect a player to feel included, despite us living in a very diverse community, when we are having an official telling a player to remove that off their head.”
Gurdeep is looking to turn professional soon, so he knows he can’t let incidents like this affect him.
He added: “I've got to keep focused, a strong mind-set, and I think I showed that during the game as I scored both goals.”
The FA rules state that headgear can be worn if it is not dangerous to the player wearing it or any other player.
The headwear must be black or the same main colour as the shirt and be in keeping with the professional appearance of the player’s equipment.
It must not have any political, religious or personal slogans, statements or images.
Gurdeep was wearing a plain black patka, therefore, was abiding by the rules.
Harpreet Singh, founder and CEO of Panjab FA, posed the question of re-education for FA officials at a time when there is more diversity in the game than ever.
He said: “There needs to be a re-education programme by the FA and their should be an annual examination that takes place.
Especially making them aware of the current trends of the community, I think that’s absolutely key.”