Indian basketball team's Sikh players were forced to remove turbans at FIBA Asia Cup

In a shocking incident, the Sikh players of the Indian basketball team were forced to remove their turbans before stepping on the court during the recently concluded FIBA Asia Cup in Wuhan, China.

FP Sports July 23, 2014 15:38:28 IST
Indian basketball team's Sikh players were forced to remove turbans at FIBA Asia Cup

In a shocking incident, the Sikh players of the Indian basketball team were forced to remove their turbans before stepping on the court during the recently concluded FIBA Asia Cup in Wuhan, China.

According to a report in The Times of India, two players - Amritpal Singh and Amjyot Singh - were asked to remove their turbans before their campaign opener against Japan.

Indian basketball teams Sikh players were forced to remove turbans at FIBA Asia Cup

File picture of the Indian Basketball team. Picture courtesy Scott Flemming.

The match officials informed the players that International Basketball Federation (FIBA) rules didn't allow them to play with turbans. Article 4.4.2 of Fiba's rules states: "Players shall not wear equipment (objects) that may cause injury to other players." It further says: "Headgear, hair accessories and jewellery are not permitted."

India's coach Scott Fleming then pleaded with the match officials but to no avail. The duo were not allowed to figure in the starting five.

Only after they removed their turbans were they allowed to play in the first quarter.

Subsequently, the two had to play without the turbans for the remaining six matches.

India had a memorable outing in the tournament but the incident left both Anritpal and Amjyot distressed.

"We have always played in turbans, even in last year's Asian Championship in Manila and also the recently held Lusofonia Games in Goa, this Asia Cup was a memorable event for all of us. But the controversy left both of us distressed. I wear a turban in practice too, and it was strange to not have it on during the game." 23-year-old Amritpal told Times Of India.

If this rule continues to be applied in the future then there are chances that India might miss the services of the two crucial players. Amjyot gave an indication that he might not play abroad as his parents were against the rule.

Coach Flemming said that he would never ask his players to do anything against the religious practices. "I am personally against a rule that infringes on someone's religious beliefs. A headgear does not cause any harm to others," he said.

Ranked 11th in Asia and 61st in the world, India shocked hosts China 65-58, overpowered Singapore 85-36 in a placing's match, outclassed Indonesia 91-55 in their last league game. The run finally came to an end when they lost to Iran in the quarters.

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