Equatorial Guinea have dropped two players believed to be men from their women national team ahead of the FIFA Women World Cup 2011 to be played in Germany starting Sunday, June 26.
Nigeria was the first to ask the Confederation of African Football (CAF) to investigate the gender of the two sisters, Salimata and Bilguisa Simpore, playing for Equatorial Guinea’s women’s team.
Players of Ghana and South Africa had also complained about the “sisters” after losses against Equatorial Guinea in the 2010 Africa Women Championship (AWC) hosted in South Africa.
Ghana’s captain Florence Okoe said after her team’s exit in AWC 2010 that it was clear what Equatorial Guinea had been up to.
“It is not as if we are throwing sour grapes, just because we have lost,” she said. “Rather, this is the fact and it is up to the organizers to do something about this. It is not good for African women’s football.”
Her teammate Diana Ankomah also added: “You only need to have physical contact with them to know this, and we can tell from what happened most times during the match.”
Australia, due to face the tiny rich African nation—of about 668,000 people, $23.8 billion annual GDP and $36,000 GDP per capita—in its second match of the Women World Cup on July 3, has already raised concerns about the legitimacy of Equatorial Guinea's squad.
Nigeria coach Eucharia Uche had said that they had paid a protest fee to CAF so that they could immediately look into the controversy.
“CAF should do something about Equatorial Guinea so that Africa will not be embarrassed at the World Cup final next year in Germany,” she said.
On the eve of the women’s World Cup, Ms. Uche sparked controversy by branding homosexuality as “dirty.”
“Homosexuality is a dirty thing, spiritually and morally it is very, very wrong,” Ms. Uche is quoted as saying in German daily Bild.
Although Ms. Uche says she has no proof that there are any gay players in the Super Falcons team, in the past she has brought in Pentecostal priests to pray and offer her team guidance on the issue.
Before Ms. Uche took charge in 2009, players are reported to have been thrown out of the Nigerian side under suspicion of being lesbians, according to Bild.
(Mustapha Ajbaili, a senior editor at Al Arabiya English, can be reached at Mustapha.firstname.lastname@example.org)