World football governing body FIFA has written to the Nigeria Football Federation over certain reports that lesbians had been banned from playing football in the National Women’s League.
A FIFA spokesman confirmed the letter but emphasized it was a preliminary inquiry, Reuters says. Media reports have widely quoted Nigeria Women’s Football League boss, Dilichukwu Onyedinma, as saying lesbian players would not be allowed to compete.
It is a tricky issue for FIFA, however, because homosexuality is illegal under Nigerian law. The Nigeria’s National Assembly recently passed a bill prohibiting same-sex marriage, and it only needs the approval of President Goodluck Jonathan to become law in the country. If that occurs, gatherings of homosexuals or any other support for gay clubs, organisations, unions will be banned, with same-sex couples facing up to 14 years in prison.
“Any player that we find is associated with it will be disqualified,” Onyedinma was quoted as saying.
“We will call the club chairmen to control their players, and such players will not be able to play for the national team,” she added.
Gay rights campaigners including the Federation of Gay Games, the European Gay and Lesbian Sport Federation (www.eglsf.info), Football vs Homophobia and AllOut (www.allout.org) said they had written to FIFA president Sepp Blatter about the alleged ban. “The organisations sending this letter believe that FIFA must now take firm decision,” said the campaigners in a statement.
But the NFF has denied receiving any letter from FIFA, saying it was not an issue that should generate controversy.