The International Basketball Federation (FIDA) approved a new rule that will lift its ban on players who wear religious headgear. The decision was made last Thursday at a congress in Hong Kong. This is a game changer for Sikh athletes and other religious groups who have been prohibited from basketball because of their headgear.
The official website said in a statement: “The new rule comes as a result of the fact that traditional dress codes in some countries — which called for the head and/or entire body being covered — were incompatible with FIBA’s previous headgear rule.”
“There is zero conflict between my faith and my ability to play basketball,” said Darsh Preet Singh, the first turbaned Sikh basketball player in the NCAA.
“I am thrilled about FIBA’s decision, which will allow athletes across the world to pursue their dreams without compromising their faith.”
Headgear has often been a controversial topic. The Qatar women’s basketball team withdrew from the 2014 Asian Games after being forbidden to wear hijabs. The team was asked to remove their hijab but refused. For years, the Sikh Coalition has been working with lawmakers and several civil rights organizations to change the ban of religious headgears. With an increased pressure and attention internationally, FIBA announced in February 2017 that they would reconsider their reposition. The rule will come into force this October.
“Nobody should ever be forced to choose between their sport and their faith.” – Sikh Coalition Senior Religion, Simran Jeet Singh
This decision has given Sikhs and other religious groups a chance to play and compete like anyone else.
U.S. Reps. Joe Crowley (NY) and Ami Bera (CA) said in a conjoint statement: “Sports can uplift communities and individuals by being a source of pride, collaboration, and friendly competition. This decision will help expand those benefits to those who deserve a fair chance at competition.”