Sunday, 26 June 2011

Super Eagles' Wings Clipped By Homophobia As FIFA Watch From The Sidelines

Nigeria and France kicked off the 2011 FIFA Women’s World Cup on Sunday with the Europeans managing a 1-0 win over the Super Eagles. The tournament in Germany provides some of the greatest female footballers the chance to show off their skills to a global audience and hopefully, help to promote the women’s game which has all too often been ignored and treated with disdain by the mainstream media.

However, while the women’s game continues to battle sexism, statements from Nigeria’s manager, Eucharia Uche, have highlighted the dangerous homophobia which still pervades the game.

Uche previously stated that “homosexuality is a dirty thing, spiritually and morally it is very, very wrong”, while she has also mounted a campaign of ridding her squad of players thought to be gay by enlisting the services of priests to pray for her players.

It has also been reported that lesbian members of Uche’s team were dropped ahead of the 2011 Finals in Germany. Yet, so far, FIFA’s response has been extremely tepid, with a promise to “talk to her (Uche)” the sum total of their actions.

This appallingly poor response from the football world’s governing body highlights how far down on their list of priorities homophobia seems to be. If the manager of a team competing in the 2011 Finals had spoken of the problem of black players in their team, FIFA would no doubt (and obviously rightly so) have acted with the kind of authority and decisiveness necessary. However, the rights of the LGBT community continue to be viewed as less important.

Until the likes of FIFA finally start to deal with the issue of homophobia within the game (and arguably within its own corridors of power), football will continue to be riddled with this vile and needless bigotry.

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