NAGPUR: The International Basketball Federation’s (Fiba) announcement to allow players to wear religious headgear may have come a little too late for Amritpal and Amjyot Singh. The Sikh players, who were asked by organizers to remove their turbans before their opening match at the Asia Cup Basketball Championship in Wuhan (China) in July, chose to cut their hair prior to boarding the flight to Incheon for the Asian Games on Wednesday.
It is reliably learnt that both players will continue to wear their turbans, but now won’t be needing patkas during their matches. The duo chose to avoid questions on why they opted for a haircut, but was relieved with Fiba’s decision to allow religious headgear.
“I woke up this morning and was pleasantly surprised with the news that Fiba has reversed the turban ban. I am grateful for the support from all quarters,” Amritpal said. “We have been saved from any future humiliation,” Amjyot added.
The statement, issued by the Fiba’s director of communication Patrick Koller shortly after Tuesday midnight, comes almost two months after TOI broke the story of Amritpal and Amjyot’s humiliation in Wuhan on July 23. The issue surfaced again during the Fiba Asia U-18 Championship at Doha (Qatar), where another Sikh player Anmol Singh was stopped from playing with a patka. The trio used rubber bands to hold their hair back and play in their respective games.
Fiba’s central board under the leadership of newly-elected president Horacio Muratore met on September 13 and held “in-depth discussions regarding rules about uniforms” and decided to allow a two-year testing phase that would let players wear religious headgear. This decision comes after sustained pressure from the Basketball Federation of India (BFI) and the sports ministry on the racial injustice meted out to the trio.
“Relaxing the current rules regarding headgear in order to enable national federations to request, as of now, exceptions to be applied at the national level within their territory without incurring any sanctions for violation of Fiba’s official basketball rules. National federations wishing to apply for such an exception to the uniform regulations shall submit a detailed request to Fiba. Once approved, they shall submit follow-up reports twice a year to monitor the use of such exceptions,” the statement read.
“Players be allowed to play in the Fiba endorsed 3×3 competitions – both nationally and internationally – wearing headgear without restrictions, unless the latter presents a direct threat to their safety or that of other players on court. Players wishing to take part in such competitions with headgear must ensure that a detailed request for approval is addressed to Fiba,” it added.
“A full review will be done in 2016 to take a decision on whether permanent changes to the official basketball rules shall be made and implemented after the 2016 Olympic Games,” the world body stated.
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