Soccer Team Accused Of "Gender Cheating"

In a case reminiscent of the Caster Semenya scandal, opposing teams are accusing the Equatorial Guinea women's soccer team of including male players.

According to NewsTime, Equatorial Guinea's competitors in the African Women's Championship are convinced that forward Salimata Simpore is actually a man. Simpore's eligibility has also been questioned for reasons of nationality — she apparently recently played for Cote d'Ivoire. And other members on her team have been accused of hiding their biological sex as well. Blogger China Acheru writes of past allegations against the Guinean team,

I remember chatting with some Falcons players at their hotel after that difficult opening game in 2006 and one of them said, during a corner kick, she put her hand "down there" to be sure she was playing against fellow girls and she swore she felt something hard and she immediately raised and alarm to the rest of the team.

Now, says Acheru, three Guinean players are under suspicion: "Salimata Simpore, Bilguisa Simpore and team captain Genoveva Ayonmang were in 2008 suspected to be boys." Says opposing player Diana Ankomah,

To lose a football game is not something we don't know how to take, that is now normal for us as footballers. But losing to unequal opposition like in this case of Equatorial Guinea is painful. You only need to have physical contact with them to know this, and we can tell from what happened most times during the match.

None of the Guinean players appear to have been subjected to the humiliating "gender testing" — and international scrutiny — that Semenya suffered. We can only hope that the international sports community learned something from that ordeal about the need for confidentiality, respect, and consistent standards rather than arbitrary decisions on who is "female enough" to compete. It's unclear, too, whether accusations against the Guinean team have any merit. You can't determine someone's biological sex by copping a feel, and competitors may have other reasons to resent the Guinean players. Acheru writes that Equatorial Guinea's team currently enjoys "domination" of African women's soccer, and that "in 2006, this tiny oil rich nation in Central Africa decided to take women football by the scruff of its neck." So maybe other teams are jealous of the upstart?

Gender Cheating Rumours Rock African Womens Championship [NewsTime]
Banyana Face Controversial Guinea [Kickoff]
Do Men Play For Guinea's Women Team? [Naija Football 247]

Image via Kickoff