February 3, 2017 (Washington, D.C.) – FIBA, the International Basketball Federation, has announced that it will reconsider and possibly eliminate its ban on religious headwear. This week’s announcement is promising for observant Sikh athletes and other religious minorities who have been forced to choose between their faith and their professions.
For years the Sikh Coalition has been publicly pressuring FIBA to lift its ban on religious headwear. Together with our allies, the campaign to update the discriminatory rule received worldwide support and attention. On January 30th, the basketball organization issued a statement saying it “favored a modification of the rule and issued a mandate for the Technical Commission to come forward with a proposal” for further review.
“We look forward to reviewing the policy and the steps for approval, and we’re optimistic that this announcement represents positive progress,” said Sikh Coalition Senior Religion Fellow, Simran Jeet Singh. “If approved, this policy will set a powerful precedent that opens doors for religious minorities including Sikhs and Muslims.”
The revised policy will be presented to a FIBA body in May. “I’m thrilled that the board has endorsed a change that, if adopted, will let Sikhs and other athletes who wear articles of faith play,” said Congressman Joe Crowley. “There is no evidence that turbans or religious headgear pose a threat to players, and FIBA’s policy has been not only outdated, but discriminatory.”