Star Striker from Women’s Zambia Soccer Banned from Play Due to ‘Gender Verification’
America is not alone in the controversy over gender and women’s sports. Barbra Banda, the star striker on the Zambia women’s national soccer team, was disqualified from competing in the Women’s Africa Cup of Nations competitions. This move was made because of the results of a “gender verification” test that all tournament participants are required to have.
The president of the Football Associate of Zambia, Andrew Karmanga, told the press that all players had to engage in gender verification because it was a CAF requirement. Banda did not meet the criteria set by CAF.
Banda is only 22 years old, but she got the global spotlight at the Tokyo Olympics last year. She had hat tricks in back-to-back games. FIFA said that it was an “unprecedented achievement in women’s Olympic football history.” And this was the first time that a team from Zambia had ever qualified for the Olympics. They finished in 9th place.
According to an official CAF document, team physicians are required to attest in writing that all players do not show “any perceived deviation in secondary sex characteristics and are therefore presumed to be of female gender.” There are similar requirements in FIFA guidelines that were written in 2011.
Sydney Mungala, the FAZ’s communications director, said the Zambian federation was made aware that Banda’s testosterone levels were outside CAF’s guidelines, and that a course of hormone suppression was offered to Banda and the other Zambian players.
“Our medics engaged the players and they weren’t willing to go through with it — I think there are possible side effects. With the players not going down that route and taking up that option, the final decision was that they could not be included in the final list for the competition,” Mungala said.
This issue is not going away. The world may be adding a completely different level for competition, men, women, and gender fluid.