New York, NY, June 10, 2011 … The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) today urged the international governing body for basketball to reverse its decision prohibiting an orthodox Jewish athlete from wearing a T-shirt under her jersey during an upcoming tournament.
To abide with Jewish rules of modesty for women, Israeli national team player Naama Shafir normally wears a T-shirt under her basketball uniform. However, according to reports, the International Basketball Federation (FIBA) for Europe said wearing the T-shirt would violate its uniform policy and it would not make an exception, thus preventing Shafir from participating in the European women's basketball championship, which opens June 18 in Poland.
"The decision to prohibit a Jewish player from wearing a T-shirt under her jersey is insensitive and discriminatory," said Abraham H. Foxman, ADL National Director. "Naama Shafir wears a T-shirt when competing in the NCAA in America, and there is no reason she shouldn't be allowed to wear one in this tournament. The shirt does not interfere with the game and FIBA should make an effort to accommodate this religious value."
In a letter to FIBA President Yvan Mainini and FIBA Secretary General Patrick Baumann, ADL urged the group to "take a stand against discrimination and reverse its decision." The League also shared its concerns with NBA Commissioner David Stern and with USA Basketball.
"This application of your rules concerning uniforms has the direct consequence of excluding orthodox Jewish and other religious women from playing in FIBA-sanctioned events," the letter said. "In addition to likely contravening a number of international and United States legal prohibitions on religious discrimination, the decision stands in stark contrast to FIBA's positioning itself as an agent of 'global peace, friendship and sportsmanship' in its Basketball without Borders program.
"The decision appears to be without foundation and has the consequence of deeply troubling and possibly unlawful discrimination."