International basketball’s governing body said that players will be allowed to wear religious head coverings, such as hijabs or turbans, on a trial basis in some competitions.
FIBA’s central board met over the weekend at the men’s world cup and voted to allow a two-year testing phase that would let players wear head coverings.
Previous FIBA rules only allowed a player to wear a 5cm headband to control hair and sweat. That drew objections that the group was discriminating against Muslim and Sikh players, who wear head coverings for religious reasons.
“We welcome this policy change by FIBA because it allows Muslims, Sikhs and others who wear religious head coverings to take part in the sport that they love while maintaining their beliefs,” said the Council on American-Islamic Relations National Communications Director Ibrahim Hooper.
“FIBA should be congratulated for responding positively to all those who sought reasonable religious accommodation for athletes of all faiths.”
During the trial, a national federation must petition FIBA to allow players to wear the head coverings. Once approved, the federation will have to submit follow-up reports twice a year.
FIBA also said it will allow players to wear head coverings in its 3-on-3 competitions unless it presents a direct threat to the safety of players on the court.
The central board will evaluate the rule again in 2015 and determine whether testing at the lowest official international level shall begin next summer.