Basketball federation denies discrimination against Pakistani girl prevented from playing in Tavira
Fatima Habib

Happy ending to basketball wrangle as Pakistani player returns to court

Portugal’s Basketball Federation (FPB) put an end to a wrangle involving a 13-year-old Pakistani girl from Tavira who was prevented from playing because her uniform violated international basketball regulations.

Fatima Habib had refused to remove a black long-sleeved jersey that she was wearing under her team’s official basketball uniform before a match against Imortal a week earlier.

She had tried to explain to the referees that she was wearing the long-sleeved undershirt because her religion did not allow her to show her arms. However, the explanation did not convince the officiating team and the youngster was not allowed to play.

Any discrimination claims have now been dismissed, and Fatima Habib has happily returned to the court.

Last Sunday, November 17, Fatima was presented by the FPB with a special undershirt that meets both international basketball regulations as well as the demands of her religion.

The undershirt was given to the youngster when her team, Clube de Basquetebol de Tavira, faced ACD Ferragudo in Lagoa on Sunday.

The FPB refused any kind of discrimination and said the referees were only following the international basketball guidelines. It was later revealed that the issue with the undershirt she was wearing was that her sleeves were too baggy.

Despite the commendable gesture from the basketball federation, a representative for the Clube de Basquetebol de Tavira told Lusa news agency that Fatima played with an undershirt that the club had already ordered online but that had not arrived in time for the previous match.

Silvia Rufino also said that the case was “blown out of proportion” and that the club’s only goal was to make sure that “Fatima could play and be happy”.

José Pinto Alberto, the federation’s director of competitions, attended the match in Ferragudo and handed “all the necessary accessories” to Fatima so that she can continue playing without breaking any basketball or religious rules.

Fatima told reporters that she was “happy about the outcome and about playing with her teammates again” like she has for the last three years.

Habib-ur-Rehmna, Fatima’s father, also told Lusa that he was happy that the controversy had come to an end and said that he was in “constant contact” with the club and the federation and that he and his family have always felt welcome in Portugal.

FPB does not discriminate
In a statement sent to newsrooms before the wrangle was amicably resolved, the FPB denied that the youngster was discriminated against in any way.

“Our regulations condemn any kind of discrimination, be it against gender, ethnicity or religion,” the federation said.

It explained that the international regulations set by the International Basketball Federation (FIBA) “respect religious and cultural freedom” and allow players to use religious sportswear so long as it allows them to move properly and ensures the safety of all players.

michael.bruxo@alagrveresident.com