Tuesday, 12 July 2011

Time to clip the wings of the Super Falcons' coach

The women's world cup has sprang a number of surprises expected from tournament football.

Japan's rise to the final, England actually playing for penalties (only to, unsurprisingly lose), Germany failing in the first round of a knockout - all unexpected delights from tournament football.

But one unnecessary and despicable action has been the behaviour of Nigerian women's football manager Eucharia Uche.

Allegations of a "witch-hunt" of lesbian players in the country, who proudly play under the banner of the Super Falcons, have been ongoing for a number of months.

It is claimed Uche uses homophobic coaching measures, even describing homosexuality as “very dirty” and “spiritually, morally very wrong”.

Yet still Fifa sits on its hands.

This is why it was positive to see a demonstration against the actions taking place in Frankfurt this week.

Leading the protest was the international gay rights pressure group www.allout.org, who are demanding an investigation into the allegations.

More than 100 activists dressed as referees in front of SV Frankfurt's Commerzbank Arena and holding up red cards reading "Homophobia No."

It was a simple action against an issue which has been overlooked for far too long.

Human rights campaigner Peter Tatchell perhaps summed up the situation best.

He said: "The reported purge last year of lesbian players from the Nigerian women's football team by Nigerian soccer federation official James Peters is outrageous discrimination.

"The team's current coach has also boasted that she is attempting to remove lesbian influences from the team. These actions go against the spirit that sport should be open to everyone and that players should be judged solely on their football abilities."

He added: "Fifa's silence and inaction is collusion with homophobic prejudice and discrimination. It has failed to act against the anti-lesbian policies of the Nigerian football authorities.

"Sepp Blatter and Fifa must insist that Nigerian football officials halt their witch-hunt of lesbian players. Allowing this discrimination is unacceptable. The beautiful game is not beautiful when it tolerates prejudice."

It may be that Fifa has its eye on other matters at the minute - most notably the allegations of in-house corruption.

But, homophobia in African football is not a new thing - the rape and killing of Eudy Simelane is just one incident of many.

But how long will it be before those with the power actually use the power.

We are beyond the stage where inactivity is an option.

This is a message to all the footballing authorities - this is an issue and you should tackle it.

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