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Orthodox Basketball Player Allowed To Cover Her Arms

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NAAMA SHAFIR
University of Toledo and Israeli national team basketball player Naama Shafir brings the ball up against Western Michigan during an NCAA college women's basketball game in Toledo, Ohio. Shafir is an Orthodox Jew who wears a T-shirt under her jersey because Jewish modesty rules require her to cover her shoulders but international basketball regulations require all members of a team to wear precisely the same uniform. (AP Photo/Madalyn Ruggiero, File) | AP

By Michelle Chabin
Religion News Service

JERUSALEM (RNS) The international basketball federation has decided to permit an Orthodox Jewish basketball player to cover her arms during competitions in accordance with her religious beliefs.

FIBA made the decision several weeks after point guard Naama Shafir, a member of the Israeli national women's basketball team, said she would be unable to play in the sleeveless regulation jerseys worn by all players.

Shafir, who studied at the University of Toledo, helped the Ohio university's Lady Rockets win the 2011 Women's National Invitation Tournament last April. She has dressed modestly throughout her college career, and the team accommodated her religious needs, from kosher food to Sabbath observance.

FIBA will permit Shafir to wear skin-colored sleeves under her jersey. She said the solution will enable her to adhere to Orthodox standards of modesty while maintaining the spirit of FIBA's dress code.

The Israeli women's team competes in international tournaments and the European championships.

Earlier this month, Iran's national women's soccer team was forced to withdraw from a crucial Olympic qualifying match after FIFA, the international governing body for soccer, rejected the Muslim players' request to wear close-fitting headscarves. FIFA said the garments violated FIFA regulations that prohibit religious articles on the playing field.

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