Sura Al-Shawk, a 19-year-old Swiss citizen of Iraqi origin, is making her debut in a regional women's league when the season starts next month. Her team, STV Luzern, sought permission for her to wear the scarf.
However, the Swiss association ProBasket said Thursday it follows the rules of the world governing body. FIBA says the sport has to be neutral, forbidding religious symbols and headcovers.
"If basketball is priority No. 1, international rules have to be respected,'' ProBasket said in a statement. "If religion is priority No. 1, then you cannot play basketball.''
It added that STV Luzern will lose its games by default if Al-Shawk plays with her headscarf. Al-Shawk says she was surprised by the decision but has not said what she will do.
"I really can't understand what is happening here,'' she said. "I would not have thought it possible that in a country like Switzerland a headscarf in sport would pose a problem.''