Match Official causes controversy over religious head wrap

- Media release -

Seasoned campaigners, Leicester Nirvana FC, are again calling for equality in football and for officials to have a greater understanding of their own rules.
On the 21st Jan 2017, whilst playing in the United Counties Football League (UCL) in Huntingdon, Cambridgeshire, a match official refused to allow a Nirvana player to play in the fixture. The player, who is a practicing Sikh, was wearing a black bandanna as part of their religious believes, and which is allowed as stipulated in the rules of the Football Association (FA).

The International Football Association Board (IFAB) Laws of the Game 2016-17 states that, ‘where head covers are worn, they must: be black or the same main colour as the shirt (provided that the players of the same team wear the same colour)’.

Nirvana has since written to the Head of Judicial Services at the National FA, the Head of Disciplinary at Leicestershire and Rutland County FA and Cambridgeshire FA, the Chief Executive of Kick it Out and the secretary of the United Counties League, who are investigating why the original decision was made.

The young player in question was said to have felt embarrassed but had the full backing of Nirvana who refused to play the fixture until the situation was resolved. Immediate enquiries saw the match official overturn their decision after direct instruction from the league. The player then went on to score both Nirvana goals in a match that ended Leicester Nirvana FC 2 – 1 Huntingdon Town FC.

Leicester Nirvana has stated that, “What we find very difficult is the lack of appreciation or understanding of the impact that these types of events have on the club, the team, the community and most importantly the players concerned. Nirvana is one of the most diverse clubs in the country, and have been put in a position were lack of training or cultural understanding has yet again, resulted in discrimination.”

Nirvana is awaiting a fuller response from the authorities in regards to what actions will be taken to make sure that an event such as this does not happen again.