Thursday, June 23, 2011

Eucharia Uche's No Lesbian Policy-Opinions and Criticisms

Nigerian Women’s Soccer Coach to Team: No Lesbians Need Apply

The Women’s World Cup Soccer Tournament is beginning in Germany and our focus should be on the play on the field.
Unfortunately this about the Nigerian women’s coach and her crusade to rid her team of lesbians calls attention to the nasty underbelly of homophobia in women’s sports. Based on her religious convictions, Coach Eucharia Uche feels entitled and compelled to root out the lesbians on the Nigerian team, even if they are identified only by rumor.

In South Africa, where national laws include protections for LGBT people, young men in rural townships still practice what has come to be called “corrective rape” on young women who are lesbians or are assumed to be because of their masculine gender expression. Perhaps the most egregious example of this brutal practice is the case of Eudy Simelane, captain of the South African women’s football team, who was beaten, raped and murdered because she was a lesbian. I wrote about this in a blog on May 12, 2010. 

I think it is important to remind readers who might be thinking that this blatant discrimination is a problem only in African Countries that, you can change the location to the United States and the race of the coach to white and you can find several similar situations where coaches are discriminating against lesbian athletes based on their religious convictions.

You can make the case that much of the religious-based anti-LGBT sentiment in African countries stems from the teaching of white Evangelical Christian missionaries who export their anti-LGBT beliefs to Africa. The deadly influence of U.S. religious leaders in Uganda resulted in the proposed law that homosexuality should be punishable by death. 

Perhaps the homophobia that women athletes in the United States experience is more subtle and less deadly than in many African countries, but it is still there. It keeps straight women silent. It costs lesbian coaches their jobs and it crushes the dreams of women athletes who are kicked off teams because a coach perceived them to be lesbian. Much of our version of homophobia in women’s sport is also based on anti-LGBT religious convictions. 

The article about the Nigerian coach is just a reminder that, despite the progress and despite the many straight male athletes speaking up against LGBT discrimination lately, we still have lots of work to do. Sexism and homophobia in sport are a deadly combination that ruin the lives and dreams of many women athletes and coaches. We cannot read this story and just shake our heads in amazement at the blatant anti-LGBT sentiments expressed by a coach on another continent. These are world-wide issues that are just as damaging here in the good ole USA. Let’s not forget that.
by Pat Griffin

Um, Okay: Nigerian Women’s Soccer Coach Tries To Rid National Team Of Homosexuality
In Africa, soccer is broadly viewed as a means of empowering women. FIFA itself cites as part of its mission a desire to use the game in “overcoming social and cultural obstacles for women with the ultimate aim of improving women’s standing in society.”
However, given the circumstances surrounding Nigeria’s renowned women’s national soccer team — the Super Falcons — the sport seems to be doing anything but.Prior to being hired as the squad’s first female coach in 2009, Eucharia Uche stated at a seminar that she was troubled by the presence of lesbians on the team. Since then, she has made a conscious effort to remove all traces of homosexual behavior from the club by way of religion.

In Uche’s own words, “[Lesbianism] is not a physical battle; we need divine intervention in order to control and curb it.”

Equally alarming, however, is the rationale that spurred Uche’s attempted reformation of the Nigeria Super Falcons in the first place.Uche said she had never witnessed her own players participating in homosexual activity. Instead, she said that she had relied on rumors, speculation and news media accounts to form her belief that lesbian behavior had been common in the Nigerian team.
With that sentiment in mind, she has resorted to bringing in Pentecostal ministers to pray with and counsel her players on a routine basis. Uche maintains that the tactic has worked and the “dirty issue” remains “a thing of the past.”
As it happens, the team’s alleged wrongdoing isn’t even rooted in fact or direct observation, just idle gossip and hearsay.
As disconcerting and immoral as their plight may be, at the end of the day, the women of the Nigeria Super Falcons are at least allowed on the field, provided they keep mum on the subject of homosexuality. This is more than can be said for those female soccer players who do elect to speak out on the controversial topic.In 2008, 31-year-old star midfielder and lesbian activist Eudy Simelane was murdered in South Africa in what many deemed a hate crime. According to The New York Times, her death “became the focus of a campaign to draw attention to violence against gays and lesbians.”

In the same country, an openly lesbian team of black players called the Chosen Few originated in Johannseburg. Participation, however, is not without risk.
A player by the name of Tumi Mkhuma was raped and left pregnant in an attack; after losing the baby, she said she twice tried to kill herself and to this day sometimes wishes she was dead.

What was once seen as a small victory for female empowerment and inclusivity in a continent marred by social injustice, has now been twisted into a cruel venue for discrimination. And like many instances of discrimination — in Africa and elsewhere — it often goes unreported.
While gender discrimination in soccer is technically prohibited and carries with it suspensions or expulsions, FIFA maintains it cannot comment on the Nigeria case due to the fact that it has received no official information or complaints.Such silence is not surprising when considered in conjunction with what Nigeria’s captain and goalkeeper, Precious Dede, had to say when asked about her coach’s position:

“I don’t know anything about it. Anything she tells you is the fact.”
So much for empowerment.
by Alexandra Kuczynski-Brown

Nigeria's women's football team 'bans lesbians', FIFA Criticised

The Nigerian women's football team, the Falcons, has expelled a number of lesbians, according to a report in a Nigerian newspaper.
The news has been reported in Germany, where the Nigerian team is to meet the German team in a FIFA Women's World Cup game 30 June.

Nigerian newspaper Sun News reports that Coach Eucharia Uche told Daily Sunsports last weekend that "lesbianism could be counted as a thing of the past among [the Nigerian women's team]". 
"Yes, lesbianism used to be a big problem in the team, but since I took over as the chief coach of Falcons, I think the problem has been dealt with. Lucky, some of the girls played with me and they know my dos and don'ts. They know that I cannot tolerate such a nasty practice. In fact, lesbianism does not currently exist in Falcons' camp and nobody discusses it."

"The players have come to know God now unlike what we had in the past. Most of them lived in ignorance, but now, they have realised the truth through proper counselling."

"We now have a bunch of players that are thirsty for the things of God and with that, they are now more committed and devoted to their games, knowing that football can attract fame, fortune and joy to their hearts quite unlike lesbianism that can ruin them. The Christians among them now go to church and on our own, we periodically organise non-denominational prayer sessions."

"We have seen the result of our efforts and I can tell you that lesbianism is now a thing of the past in the camp of the Super Falcons."
Uche "shocked" her audience at a event in 2009 'First Seminar on Women Football in Nigeria: Challenges and Prospects' shortly before she was hired "with the startling admittance that some of the country's female players often times indulged in lesbian practices."
“It's a worrisome experience that some of our players indulge in lesbianism. Some of them go as far as renting rooms in hotels around the team's campsite where they go to satisfy their orgy," Uche said.
“A good number of them even bring their male friends into the camp. It's a serious development that has been detrimental to the team's growth and performance."
The Nigeria Football Federation (NFF)'s Chief Media Officer, Ademola Olajire, has previously denounced "women sleeping with their fellow women as love birds".
“We all know of these vices because lesbianism has become a thing of common knowledge that the female footballers no more hide it among themselves. However, those who indulge in the nasty act had promised to stop it and the NFF is putting measures in place to ensure that they keep to their promises,” Olajire said.
The former NFF technical assistant Sir James Peters, told The Sun News:
"Having coached female teams in the US, I have an in-depth knowledge about how lesbians operate."

"When I was in charge of the Falconets, we did not allow lesbian to stay in the same room. We took time to identify all of them and checkmated them with some restrictions."

"The act was rampart with the Super Falcons that played at the World Cup in China and at the African Women Championship in Equatorial Guinea. It was during those tournaments that I discovered the lesbians in the team."

"When I was drafted to work with the Falcons last year, I decamped some of the players, not because they were not good players, but because they were lesbians. It did not go down well with some of the players because we made sure that neither the 'husband' nor the 'wife' made the team,” Peters said.
Peters confirmed that in the past he had excluded players from the national team because they are lesbians.

Last year, Nigeria accused Equatorial Guinea of using at least one and perhaps two male players on its team because of their supposed masculine appearance. 

FIFA, soccer’s world governing body, states as part of its mission a desire to use the game in “overcoming social and cultural obstacles for women with the ultimate aim of improving women’s standing in society.”

FIFA has been heavily criticised for awarding the Men's Word Cup to Qatar, where homosexuality is illegal.

Joanie Evans of England, who is a co-president of the International Gay and Lesbian Football Association, told the New York Times that her group was “appalled” by the Nigeria situation.
“Women in sport are seen as a poor relation as it is. To discriminate against women again because of their sexuality is really damaging.”

Evans criticized FIFA for not being as forceful in fighting against homophobia as it has been trying to counter racism in soccer. FIFA said that gender discrimination was strictly prohibited and that violations could result in suspensions or expulsions, but that it could not comment on the Nigeria case because it had received no official information or complaints.
By Paul Canning

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