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Basketball governing body changes rules to allow hijab

26th May 2017
Basketball governing body changes rules to allow hijab

Asma Elbadawi from Bradford (left) and Bilqis Abdul-Qaadir from Springfield, Massachusetts both successfully campaigned for Basketball’s governing body to change its rules on head gear (Photo: Creative Commons)

Elham Asaad Buaras

Basketball’s governing body has changed its rules on headgear, in a move that will allow players to wear the hijab during matches. Previous International Basketball Federation (Fiba) rules had banned the headdress over what it said was a safety issue.

The Qatar women’s team withdrew from the 2014 Asian Games after being denied permission to wear the hijab. The New rules were ratified that will take effect from October 1.
Among the players affected by the band is Bilqis Abdul-Qaadir from Springfield, Massachusetts, who was sidelined for almost four years.

Abdul-Qaadir, who holds Massachusetts scoring record for high school players both male and female, went on to a successful college career at Indiana State and the University of Memphis.

After graduating, she wanted to turn pro and play in Europe but she was unable to pursue this dream as her hijab violated Fiba’s uniform rule. Abdul-Qaadir started an online campaign called Muslim Girls Hoop Too that reached as far as the White House – she met former President Barack Obama twice as a result of her activism.

She reacted to the news on Twitter, saying “the glass ceiling has been shattered, and the sky is the limit.”

Bradford-based basketball player, Asma Elbadawi, also started campaigning to overturn the hijab ban in July last year. Elbadawi welcomed the decision as a “huge step” adding, “Basketball is one of the fastest growing sports, so there is a large demographic of talent to tap into. The fact that there is no longer a ban in place to prevent or exclude players from certain backgrounds from making it to the pros means we are about to witness the game transform on and off the court ”

She told The Muslim News it was only a matter of time before Fiba followed the example of “other sport governing bodies have already relaxed their rules regarding religious attire.”

“There will be scope to further inspire future generations as they will see players who look like them and can relate to their struggles. It’s important for children to see an athlete that looks like them and faced similar struggles as they will in order to make it. As this says to the young girl and boy, you can do it too,” said Elbadawi.

In a statement to The Muslim News Fiba said its “first-ever Mid-Term Congress, which is bringing together representatives from 139 National Federations, on Thursday [May 4] unanimously ratified the Fiba Central Board’s decision for a new rule that will allow players to wear headgear.”

“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 previous headgear rules,” the statement added.

It was feared that head coverings could fall off during the game and potentially pose a risk to players.

Under the new rule, headgear must meet certain criteria to be allowed in competition, including that it “does not cover any part of the face entirely or partially”, it is “not dangerous to the player wearing it or other players” and it does not have “parts extruding from its surface”.

Fiba began a revision process of its headgear rule in September 2014, with exceptions being granted at the national level as part of a two-year testing period.

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