A CAMPAIGN to allow basketball players to wear hijabs on the sports court has nearly gained 100,000 signatures.
The International Basketball Federation (FIBA) is facing a firestorm ahead of its controversial decision this month on whether women players can wear a headscarf while on the court.
Pressure is mounting on basketball authorities to allow Muslim women players to wear a hijab during official competitions.
The debate over Muslim garments in sports has already seen FIFA remove the ban on hijabs and turbans.
One star player Indira Kaljo said she will not play professionally again until she is allowed on a basketball court wearing a hijab.
The Muslim player said "the struggle is real" for women in hjiabs who want to play the game.
She added that "it's time for a change".
Ms Kaljo, born in Bosnia and raised in America, continued: "Even in the Olympics, women that wear hijab are not allowed to compete, and to me this is just outrageous."
Not one of the 144 basketball players expected to compete in Rio will be wearing the traditional hijab headscarf on the court.
The Change.org petition, started by Asma Elbadawi, a player from Sudan and now living in West Yorkshire, has gathered over 90,000 names.
Bilqis Abdul-Qaadir, the first Muslim woman in a hijab to play basketball at a collegiate level - where the garment is allowed - said the restriction "broke her heart".
She said her hijab "was going to prevent" her "from reaching my dream".
Muslim players hope that they can play in the hijab at future Olympic games.
The basketball federation has long prohibited the use of headgear and hair accessories in basketball and ruled that "all equipment used by players must be appropriate for the game".
FIBA has claimed it is a safety issue and detracts from team uniformity.
One concern is that a hijab could slip down around the neck and could be pulled, causing injury to the neck or cause a player to choke.
Another concern is overheating for Muslim female athletes who not only have to cover their head but their legs and arms as well.
The sports body has allowed a two-year testing phase to see the impact of the hijab on the game, since 2014.
Kuwait launched a major challenge to the rule more than seven years ago after a teenage player wearing a hijab was barred from playing in the Asian Youth Games.
Kuwait coach Yousef Khaled said at the time: "I think the rules should be changed. It's just a scarf and it doesn't affect the players."