‘Bobo Dread’ appeal denied by SKABA appointed Board – Ghetto Roots disappointed but not surprised by decision

SKABA appeals board chairman Glen Quinlan

ZIZ Sports…April 24, 2010 – The St. Kitts Amateur Basketball Association Appeals board upheld the decision by SKABA to ban the wearing of a religious head-wrap during games by Defending Champions Ghetto Roots Player Dale Rochester aka “Bobo Dread”.

In the ruling which was handed down on Friday 23rd April the appeals committee declared that among other things the head-wrap would make the player more recognizable and easier to pass to than other players thus giving him an advantage. It also cited a recent matter in Switzerland where a similar case was brought.

‘The substantive issue is whether Rule 4.4.2 is interpreted properly, both by the local SKABA Executive and their parent organization FIBA. We have already identified our concerns with the construction of Rule 4.4.2 and its sub clauses. Notwithstanding our concerns, the ruling earlier this year in a Swiss Court of Law on a matter with significant similarity, has significant importance for us. The Court found that …”the ban on headgear can, in this [Rule 4.4.2] wording not be interpreted in any other way than to mean that thereby headscarves are also not permitted …”

In addition to the possible injury effect, there is also the matter of uniformity and the possibility that headgear worn by one player may make that player more recognizable and easier to pass to than others and is therefore to be justified on the grounds of fairness.

“Our club remains steadfast in the view that Mr. Rochester has a fundamental and constitutional right to play,” said Ghetto Roots Head Coach Dr. Garfield Alexander. “I am very disappointed that the appeals committee decided against taking the matter to the general body for them to make a decision. After all they (the teams and players) are the one who are directly affected by Mr. Rochester and his head-wear,” Dr. Alexander continued.

The upholding of the ruling on the head wear has essentially ended the basketball career of the young Mr. Rochester as he is restricted from playing in any SKABA league games and by extension rural community leagues which are all sanctioned by SKABA with rules guided by FIBA.

This is truly an unfortunate decision said Ghetto Roots Assistant Coach Dwayne Sturge. “He we have a young man who an upstanding law-abiding citizen of this country who is being denied the opportunity to play the sport that he loves and is good at because of his religious beliefs,” Sturge continued.

“The decision came as no surprise to me as I have mentioned before the make-up of the committee was very concerning to me and the fact that SKABA selected the members with absolutely no input from Ghetto Roots strengthens my concern over the committee and their impartiality,” said Coach Sturge.

The SKABA /Bobo Dread issue has been a hot topic throughout the length and breadth of St.Kitts-Nevis with a vast majority of persons supporting Mr. Rochester’s right to wear his religious head-wear without discrimination.

The appeals board was led by SKNOC Treasurer Mr. Glen Quinlan along with Lester Ible and Arthur “Garfield” Jeffers. According to Ghetto Roots Coach Alexander his team is expected to meet to discuss the way forward for the team.

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