VIDEO. “I felt humiliated”: Salimata, a basketball player for 10 years, was removed from the court for covering up.

“Salimata is the backbone of our team. He is a very good player that we hope for and he is also an ambassador for the sport. There, we lack role models for the youth. Sebastien Marie-Sainte, president of the Aubervilliers (Seine-Saint-Denis) basketball club, can’t believe it. Salimata Sylla, one of N3’s star playmakers, was suspended for the tournament in northern France in early January. First time.

The match hadn’t even started when the referee informed the coach that the 25-year-old, who had played in the French championship for more than a decade, would remain on the bench. What do we accuse him of? Wearing a head covering. Salimata, who is of the Muslim faith, has indeed been covering her hair for several years with a sports hijab, an accessory sold by many sports equipment manufacturers. For nearly three years, the wearer has never stopped him from playing in competitions.

“I earn my place in this match, get up on Sunday to drive three hours to Escaudain[Hauts-de-France]get changed and warm up with my teammates, and then get sent off? What if I have an approved headgear? – asks Salimata Sylla. “I felt humiliated,” he said, hurt. The situation is even more incomprehensible for her, who works every day to make her sport more inclusive and accessible to young people and women, sometimes wearing an association hat and sometimes working as an ambassador for sports brands in their social media campaigns. .

A final reminder to the judges

If the regulations of the French Basketball Federation (FFBB) were indeed to ban headgear for “three or four years”, according to the president of the Aubervilliers club, the “witch hunt” would indeed begin in January and “Sali”. – as his friends say – “not an isolated case”. And the impression of “sorting” among the players on the field in recent days is not accidental: a reminder about the rule was actually sent to the referees in December.

Le Parisien has obtained an email sent by one of the leaders of the Ile-de-France Basketball League. Although the term is never used in the rules, with the subject “Veil-wearing information”, [puisqu’il peut légalement être considéré comme discriminatoire car visant directement la communauté musulmane] instead, the term “headgear” is mentioned.

“Disgusting decision,” according to one of Romi’s teammates, who watched Sali’s absence from the field. Another player, Muriella, recalls: “Wearing a veil is a non-issue between us. We’re all here to play sports, not look at each other. “Romi is sarcastic:” I find it hypocritical when the Federation talks about “headwear”. Looks like the players come home with a cowboy hat.

Repeatedly contacted, the FFBB did not respond to our inquiries about the reason for this rule, which is not enforced by the international basketball federation, FIBA. Puma, Nike, Adidas, Asics, etc. It does not apply to the safety of sports hijabs offered for sale by many sports team sponsors around the world.

Salimata also reminds that in a year, France will host the Olympic and Paralympic Games “and several foreign athletes will come to participate with headgear, while we exclude French women who wear it. The French Basketball Federation is also the only sports body – along with the French Football Federation – to ban the wearing of veils in its competitions. And in general, on a global scale, with the exception of France, even at the European level.

Already in the summer of 2022, the French basketball player Diaba Konate, who studied and played in the USA, was prevented from playing in France during the Open Plus tournament organized by the French Federation in Pouliguen (Loire-Atlantique). The football player, who used to play across the Atlantic Ocean with a hijab, expressed his displeasure on social networks.

Recently, Shahed Darwish, president of the Bonneuil-sur-Marne (Val-de-Marne) club, issued a strong press release to say that he will no longer attend any committee meetings as long as “this absurd rule” is in place. The rules will include “women’s basketball night.” He lets it be known that he will step down as club president at the end of the season if nothing is done on the side of “completely detached from reality”.

“My position is not to blame one example more than another, upsets Sebastien Marie-Sainte in Aubervilliers. But today it is necessary to say that there is a rule and it is not necessarily fair. So what do we do so that no one is harmed, avoids discrimination wrist? The ethical charter of basketball, published a few years ago, talked about promoting women’s sports and fighting against all kinds of discrimination. Why do you oppose this text today? »

Salimata will conclude: “I just want to play basketball.” And other women and girls have the same opportunity. It is serious to ask for it in 2023.”

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