Headgear, including the hijab and yarmulkes, will be allowed in professional basketball following the approval of a proposal by the International Basketball Federation (FIBA) that overturns a ban on such head coverings.
The organisation’s central board approved the proposal on Wednesday and the new rule was formally ratified during FIBA’s midterm congress on Thursday.
“It came up in our board meeting and everyone supported making the change,” USA Basketball CEO Jim Tooley said prior to Thursday’s FIBA meeting.
The body started the process of revising the rule in September 2014 and in February of this year, it tasked its playing rules committee to create a proposal that outlines how headgear could safely be worn in competition.
“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,” FIBA said in a statement.
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”.
The rule change comes after a successful social media campaign aimed at overturning the ban that began more than two years ago.
A number of change.org petitions calling for a change to the rule have garnered more than 137,000 signatures.
#FIBAallowhijab campaign has seen results as intl. basketball chiefs overturn headgear ban. A game changer for the sport
Kike Salihu Rafiu, who played basketball in college but was forced to give up the sport on a professional level because she wears the hijab, said that she believed social media helped prompt the reversal of the ban.
“Because we couldn’t physically meet in person because we’re all diverse … I think using that platform did open the eyes of FIBA in realising that there’s a huge community that wants to participate in the sport and this rule is actually stopping us from participating professionally and representing our country,” Rafiu said.