A Sikh footballer who was sent off for confronting an opponent who tugged on his head covering has welcomed new guidance for referees.

Semi-professional athlete Charan Singh Basra was playing for Langford FC on 5th January as they were 3-1 up against Real Bedford in a league game of the 10th tier of English football when his patka – a head covering he wears for religious reasons, was pulled by Bedford’s Jordan Brown.

The midfielder assertively defend himself by manhandling Brown, who then fell to the floor. Charan Singh received his second yellow card of the evening for this and was thus sent-off. Brown was only given a yellow card.

It prompted a wave of complaints to The Football Association (FA). It’s now told officials that what happened to Charan could be a red-card offence.

The new guidance says referees should send off any player who deliberately and inappropriately touches a religious head covering.

Charan said the change is “needed” after his experience

“There were two incidents during this game where my Patka (religious head covering) was pulled at,” he said via the Sikh PA.

“The referee was informed after both incidents yet remained despondent, even after informing him that it is a religious symbol.

“A Real Bedford player has hit me in the face and pulled at my Patka.

“I have been playing football for over 20 years, been in numerous tackles, headed the ball on multiple occasions and my Patka has not once come loose as I tie it securely. That shows the amount of force that would’ve been needed to remove it from my head, which is why I am sure it was pulled at intentionally.”

Pioneering Jurnail Singh, who was the first Sikh referee in English football, helped to shine a light on this issue and bring it to the FA’s attention.

Mr Singh, from Wolverhampton, says he “wanted to raise awareness around the significance of the patka, hijab, and any other articles of faith worn by any player or referee.”

“If we don’t act upon these kind of incidents, it could put off the next generation of children from getting involved in sport”.

The FA says it’s written to all match officials across the English game to outline the new guidance, which aims to “stamp out discrimination” in the sport.

“The guidance confirms that touching religious head coverings without an individual’s permission is an offensive act, given it is an article of faith,” it said in a statement.

“Therefore, if an incident of this nature occurs during a match and is seen by the match officials, it is to be considered a red card offence.”