It’s not easy to be irrelevant and outrageous at the same time, but FIFA, under the ham-handed leadership of Sepp Blatter, seems to have achieved exactly that.
The homophobic remarks and discriminatory actions of Nigerian national team coach Eucharia Uche and the Nigerian Football Federation have finally been addressed. That’s right: FIFA’s head of women’s competitions Tatjana Haenni told the Associated Press today that FIFA will be “talking to” Uche, and pointing out to her that “it would be best to express oneself neutrally.” In other words, keep it to yourself.
“FIFA is against all forms of discrimination,” Haenni said. There, don’t you feel better?
This is the official response by the international governing body of football. Uche has come under fire for homophobic comments including that homosexuality is “dirty”, and that the lesbians on her team were “a really big problem”. In an attempt to cleanse the team she brought in priests, and ultimately removed several players. Former technical assistant for the Nigerian Football Federation James Peters said the dismissals were “not because they were not good players, but because they were lesbians.”
This is taking place during the Women’s World Cup tournament. Millions of eyes are trained on the players, the matches, the officials and the executives, yet even under this close scrutiny, Blatter and FIFA clearly feel that the matter is so insignificant that it doesn’t warrant more than a conversation. This tells us everything we need to know about the Association’s anti-discrimination policy.
I, for one, am saying this is nowhere near good enough. If you feel the same way, sign the AllOut petition demanding a real response from FIFA.
Update: FIFA’s “position on discriminating statements“, posted to the official web site June 30, 2011.
Update: Uche tells German paper Zeit Online “someone misquoted me”. Published June 30, 2011.
Update: Federation of Gay Games, International Gay and Lesbian Football Association, and AllOut.org write a letter to Sepp Blatter and FIFA.