Nigerian Football Federation Denies it Banned Lesbians from Soccer
The BBC is reporting that the Nigerian Football Federation (NFF) is now denying that there is an official ban in place that would prohibit lesbians from playing for or representing their country.
NFF spokesman Ademola Olajire told the BBC, "Unfortunately, a section of the media has blown petty speculation out of proportion. We have already circulated Onyedinma's speech at the NWFL's annual general assembly, clearly she never said anything of the nature that has been alleged," he said.
Fox Sports Soccerpicked up Nigerian news reports last week that Dilichukwu Onyedinma (pictured), the chair of the Nigerian Womenâ€™s Football League (NWFL), who also serves as a member of the NFF executive committee, said that there was an official ban in place, and that any woman associated with lesbianism would be disqualified from play.
"Any player that we find is associated with [lesbianism] will be disqualified,â€ť Onyedinma reportedly said during the Annual General Assembly of the Womenâ€™s League body. â€śWe will call the club chairmen to control their players and such players will not be able to play for the national team.â€ť
Because the ban would violate the FĂ©dĂ©ration Internationale de Football Associationâ€™s (FIFA) current anti-discrimination policies, CNN Internationalreported that FIFA had written the NFF for clarification over Onyedinmaâ€™s comments.
"This is not a FIFA investigation, but a preliminary step, fully in line with how any normal procedure would be conducted by FIFA's Disciplinary Department," the FIFA spokesperson said. "Until we establish more details, we cannot speculate on any sanctions, or indeed any next steps."
However, Olajire is denying that FIFA even reached out to their organization. "The NFF never received any letter or query from FIFA," he said. "The NWFL chairperson never made such sensitive comments and the NFF are not under any FIFA probe or query."
Coincidentally, this isnâ€™t the first time that the Nigerian team has found itself in hot water for bigoted tactics within their organization. On the eve of the 2011 Women's World Cup, Eucharia Uche, the former head coach of the Nigerian national team, admitted to purging her team of all its lesbian players and she was quoted by the NY Timesas saying that homosexuality is a â€śdirty issue,â€ť and â€śspiritually, morally very wrong.â€ť
Uche was cautioned by FIFA for her remarks.