LESBIAN BAN IN NIGERIA NATIONAL TEAM: A Case Where FIFA and The Country's Laws Conflict

Dilichukwu Onyedinma, Chairperson Nigeria Women's League
Earlier this week, report from Nigeria quoted Dilichukwu Onyedinma, head of Nigeria women's football league, as saying lesbian players should be ostracized.

 "Any player that we find is associated with it will be disqualified. We'll call the club chairmen to control their players, and such players will not be able to play for the national team." she was quoted as saying.

But her comment drew a storm of protest from Gay Right Campaigners and a number of other groups, who wrote to FIFA President, Sepp Blatter, about the alleged ban, citing FIFA bylaws and the Olympic charter.

Sepp Blatter, FIFA President
 Article 3 of FIFA statutes threaten stiff punishments for individuals or national federations, if the code which focuses on discrimination and racism is broken.

"Discrimination of any kind against a country, private person or group of people on account of ethnic origin, gender, language, religion, politics or other reason, is strictly prohibited and punishable by suspension or expulsion." - the FIFA statute reads.

This is a very delicate issue because, any action which FIFA might choose to take based on the statute, could be complicated by Nigeria law, under which homosexuality is illegal. Then in solving this matter, let us see some of the pros and cons. Perhaps, determine how best it could be handled.

1. FIFA may insist that Nigeria withdraw the decision, but do not have the right to question Nigeria if a player or group of players are dropped from any Nigerian teams.

2. Nigerian team managers owe no obligation to tell any player or group of players the reason why they were dropped from the team. So lesbian discrimination could be applied as a non-verbal code of conduct.

3. In cases of conflict between a club and the Federation regarding this matter, The ruling body may indirectly take against a team on breach of moral ethics.

4. It pays a player better to keep to the verbal and non-verbal ethical code of conduct of her club or national team. It is easier for a Camel to pass through the eye of a needle, than a player to win over a case with the federation or team management.

1. If FIFA doesn't ask Nigeria to rescind her decisions, other countries may take to the precedence to implement discriminatory rules as enshrined in their laws.

2. If Nigeria withdraws the decision explicitly, it may indirectly mean legalizing homosexuality, which has a strong implications on the socio-cultural and religion fabrics of the country.

3. On the other hand, if Nigeria decides to go on expulsion by not rescinding the decision, it affect the socio- cultural coherence of the country. Considering that the sport has become a tool for peace and unity.

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