Basketball players will have the option of playing whilst wearing a hijab, turban or yarmulke. The International Basketball Federation (FIBA) plans on eliminating religious headgear restrictions during international games, according to the Associated Press.
FIBA President Horacio Muratore received a letter recently calling for an end to the rule. The letter was published on social media and was signed by a dozen members of the Women’s National Basketball Association, among others, according to the Associated Press.
“I am a Muslim, and I think anyone should have the right,” Kenneth Faried, a Denver Nuggets forward, told the Associated Press. “Jewish (…) Muslim, Christian, Catholic, it doesn’t matter. You should be able to support your religion and wear whatever is part of your religion.”
The FIBA created the ban against religious headgear 20 years ago for safety reasons and only recently started attracting criticism. Other sports already moved past similar restrictions.
“I am against discrimination in all forms, and the headgear ban serves to discriminate based on religion and unfairly impacts the participation of women and girls,” Breanna Stewart, a WNBA player who also signed the letter, told the Associated Press. “There is no legitimate safety concern, so why have it? Sports should be accessible to everyone, and we have the opportunity as a basketball community to lead the way in that effort, so we should.”
U.S. women’s coach Geno Auriemma and NBA vice president Kiki Vandeweghe are on the FIBA committee to ultimately implement the rule change.
“Let’s get as many people playing as possible,” Auriemma said, according to the Associated Press. “Make the game as inclusive as possible within reason. I’m sure if enough intelligent people get together, they can come up with an intelligent solution to this.”