A report in City News, an online venue from Toronto, reports an example of insufferable bigotry—the kind of bigotry that one might think would not be tolerated in Canada. Except it was. A Muslim high school in Toronto was playing football (the soccer kind) against a Catholic High school from Caledon. The Muslim team complained because there were two girls on the Catholic school team.
A boys soccer team from ISNA Private Islamic High School refused to finish a game on Tuesday because two females were on the opposing team during a Brampton tournament.
Robert F. Hall Catholic School, in Caledon, does not have a girls team so the two females played on the senior boys team, which was approved by the Region of Peel Secondary School Athletic Association (ROPSSAA).
During halftime, the ISNA Private Islamic High School team brought the concern to the referee. Robert F. Hall Catholic School school was winning the game 3–1 at that point.
At that point, of course, the referee should have made the Muslim-school team forfeit for refusal to play. But (as the video below suggests), the girls on the Catholic school team voluntarily withdrew from the field so their team could rack up extra points that they needed to advance. (It seems that a forfeit would not have given them as many points, though I’m not clear about that.) They should not have had to do that.
The girls on Robert F. Hall Catholic School team told CityNews they insisted on sitting out for the second half to allow the game to continue. The team went on to win 6-1 but both teams ended up advancing to the next round.
There is a chance the two teams could face each other again on Monday.
ROPSSAA said their rules are black and white.
But this is uncharted territory for the board so they are gathering their facts and will make a ruling on Friday about how to proceed.
The way to proceed, of course, is to insist that the Muslim-school team play against any and all legal comers, and kick them out of the league if they don’t. They have to abide by the rules, regardless of their religion. Of course if you watch the video below (go to the link), the Muslim coach, Essa Abdool-Karim, insists that it’s not about gender discrimination, but “religious freedom.” What freedom, exactly, is he talking about? The freedom to discriminate against women?
The coach also said this: “Free mixing is generally something we do not do, more so out of respect than anything.” Seriously? Out of RESPECT? If they truly respected women, they’d play football against them!
Do watch the video, which also has an interview with Carla Briscoe, who’s upset to the point of tears of this kind of unexpected bigotry.
UPDATE: I wrote this post two days ago, but there’s an update from this morning. The Muslim team has been told to obey the rules, which are province-wide rules on gender equality. In the future, the Muslims must either play against women or forfeit. But look at this masterpiece of waffling and disingenuousness when the school reacted:
In a statement issued Friday night, ISNA [the Muslim school] said its soccer team “regrets the confusion and misunderstandings that have arisen” from the incident.
The school explained that the team’s coach offered to forfeit the game “due to the religious commitment of non-contact with members of the opposite gender who are not family members.”
“The opposing team chose to substitute the female players as opposed to accepting the forfeit. In hindsight, ISNA high school regrets that the female players felt they could not participate,” the school said.
“It was never the team’s intention to exclude female participation, which was reflected in the offer to forfeit. The team sincerely regrets if any team members or participants were hurt or felt discriminated based on their gender due to the accommodation made by the opposing team.”
The school said it “fully respects” ROPSSAA’s rules and plans to consult the organization on whether any accommodations can be sought on the issue.
So they’re still fighting it, for what “accommodation” is possible? As for saying “It was never the team’s intention to exclude female participation,” that’s just a bald-faced lie.