ADL Urges Basketball Group to Reconsider 'Discriminatory' Uniform Policy

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."

In a compromise, the Israeli athlete competed in the women's championship wearing skin-toned elastic sleeves. More

ADL is the world’s leading anti-hate organization. Founded in 1913 in response to an escalating climate of anti-Semitism and bigotry, its timeless mission is to protect the Jewish people and to secure justice and fair treatment for all. Today, ADL continues to fight all forms of hate with the same vigor and passion. A global leader in exposing extremism, delivering anti-bias education, and fighting hate online, ADL is the first call when acts of anti-Semitism occur. ADL’s ultimate goal is a world in which no group or individual suffers from bias, discrimination or hate.

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