FIBA President Hamane Niang has called out racism and social injustice in the wake of protests over the death of George Floyd in the United States.
Floyd was killed last month after a Minneapolis police officer knelt on his neck for nearly nine minutes while he was handcuffed and lying face down on the ground.
The incident caused outrage and protests all over the US with athletes and personalities joining Black Live Matters movements throughout the country
And in an open letter posted on the FIBA website, Niang has addressed racism and called on the global basketball community to be part of the change in society.
Dear Basketball Friends,
Since my first day as FIBA President, I feel a burning desire to help FIBA inspire a more unified global basketball community. Because that is precisely what basketball is, a community. We are sport, yes, but basketball is much more than that. It is a source of hope, a source of friendship and most importantly a source of equality.
Basketball is a sport built on the values of togetherness, progression, openness and responsibility. Inclusivity and equal opportunity are not an aspiration at FIBA, they are a demand. As the organization responsible for the development and long-term health of our sport, FIBA must act as a role model for the whole basketball community. This means showing compassion, understanding and a constant determination to improve and give everyone a voice.
FIBA is a politically neutral organization, as we want basketball to build a more cohesive future, not contribute to, or even further, political divisions. However, this does not mean staying silent on the issue of racism. FIBA unequivocally condemns all forms of discrimination as an attack on an individual’s basic human rights. There is no place for this in basketball, in sport, or in any aspect of society.
Recent events are a strong reminder that society, including sport, can always do more to build a stronger and more unified community. Our statutes are clear in expressing zero tolerance towards racism and FIBA will always fight discrimination of any kind.
However, racism is not a problem that can be solved overnight nor is it a problem isolated to one country; it is a global issue.
The protests have encouraged us to be introspective and ask ourselves the question, “Is FIBA doing enough to combat racism?” The FIBA Executive Committee met today and reflected on our existing initiatives that target inclusivity, equal opportunity and greater representation, before identifying where the organization can do more for the basketball community. We are a global organization and so we must reflect and celebrate the world’s rich diversity.
As a proud African serving as President of FIBA, I know how important it is that we provide people of all ethnicities and backgrounds with equal opportunities so that all voices and communities are represented.
There are many things that the FIBA family can be proud of in this regard. Our rotating continental presidency ensures a voice for all; we have invested significantly across the globe through initiatives like the Basketball for Good project and its programs, Basketball Without Borders together with the NBA or the international leagues that we are currently developing in Africa, Asia, Americas and Europe. In March 2020, we also reviewed and strengthened FIBA’s internal integrity and ethics policies, including the appointment of the first-ever FIBA Integrity Officer.
However, we cannot rest until racism is no longer a part of society. That is why today I am asking you, the basketball community, to be a part of the change. FIBA will work with its Players Commission to develop concrete actions against racism in basketball. And while it is important for FIBA to lead, it is equally important for us to listen. We, therefore, encourage the members of the basketball community to write to FIBA and share your experiences and ideas. This is fundamental to ensuring progression and togetherness.
We greatly look forward to hearing from you and working together to build a stronger, more unified future.
FIBA President Hamane Niang, on behalf of the FIBA Executive Committee,
Sheik Saud Ali Al-Thani