Basketball players say allowing headgear empowers the sport

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) Basketball enthusiasts around the world say a decision to allow players to wear headgear that complies with their religious beliefs will encourage more people to play the sport.

Thursday's ruling by the federation known as FIBA means players can wear hijabs, turbans and yarmulkes following a ban initially imposed for safety reasons. Several major sports federations already allow head covers during matches.

American-Muslim basketball player Indira Kajlo says she had to choose ''between playing and not playing'' the sport she loved when she decided to wear the hijab a few years ago. She says the decision welcomes a new generation of athletes to play basketball.

Iranian national basketball team player Shadi Abdolvand says the game will now change in Iran and encourage younger players to ''pursue their goals more persistently.''

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