I have a U12 Girl who is telling me that she cannot remove her earrings due to her religion. She is a Muslim. They are saying that Islam will not allow her to remove the earrings for any reason.
What should I tell them ?
USSF answer (October 13, 2011):
No referee should be placed in a position in which a decision on this matter must be given by the referee. This is not the job of any referee. If learned theologians can disagree on what a religion requires, and armies of adherents can take up arms to enforce to the death their particular vision of salvation, then the lone individual referee has no chance.
The competition authority (league, tournament, etc.) should be the one to decide if a player may be permitted to offer the religious exemption by applying to them with a description of the item of clothing or equipment which the player desires to wear on the field and accompanied by an explanation of how and why (and under what authority) that item is required to be worn by the player’s religion.
The competition authority should then decide to accept or reject the application. If it accepts the application, it should issue a written decision which the player, the player’s coach, or the player’s parents should have with them at each and every game in which that player wishes to participate. The referee’s sole responsibility is, based on this approved application, to inspect the item described in the approval to determine if it is safe both at the start of play and throughout play.
The competition authority has no business encroaching on the referee’s responsibility for safety, and the referee has no business making any decision about religious doctrine.