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A Muslim woman's fight to play basketball
14:33 - Source: Great Big Story

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Law change permits headgear in basketball

Rules had barred wearing of headscarves

Exemptions have been in place since 2014

CNN  — 

Basketball’s governing body has changed its laws to allow players to wear religious head coverings during games.

The International Basketball Federation (FIBA) had previously banned headgear on safety grounds, but began a review of its policy, and granted exemptions, from September 2014.

At its congress in Hong Kong, FIBA agreed a new rule to come into force in October this year that will allow players to wear ratified headgear, that minimizes the risk of injury and is the same color as a team’s kit.

In a statement on its official website FIBA said: “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.”

That rule had posed major problems to basketball players around the world, including Muslim women in hijab, Orthodox Jews who wear kippahs and Sikhs in turbans.

“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, praising the decision in a statement released by the Sikh Coalition.

“I am thrilled about FIBA’s decision, which will allow athletes across the world to pursue their dreams without compromising their faith.”

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Headgear has often been a controversial topic.

Qatar’s women’s basketball team withdrew from the 2014 Asian Games after being forbidden from wearing hijabs.

Its team were asked to remove their Islamic headscarves and refused, thereby forfeiting its match with Mongolia. FIBA insisted its laws held no religious connotation in the wake of the protest.

This was despite several other sports at the Games allowing competitors to wear hijabs.

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Soccer’s world governing body FIFA lifted its ban on headgear in 2014, provided it was not attached to the shirt and was also the same color.