That is the question posed in an excellent essay by Shireen Ahmen, whose blog Tales of a Hijabi Footballer is a must-read for those interested in the global politics of global football. It is published at Football is a Country, part of the Africa is a Country blog.
The piece focuses on a recent incident of “gender testing” directed at Genoveva Anonma, a football player from Equatorial Guinea who was named Africa’s Female Footballer of the Year in 2012. It offers a powerful critique of the treatment of women’s football players by the sporting federations and institutions:
“Officials and administrators in football are supposed to be advocates for the beautiful game and for footballers — irrespective of gender. But the treatment of female players with regard to gender testing is deplorable. Officials have no boundaries when it comes to shaming female players.”
What horrifying treatment of Ahmen, and to think that this goes on in within such high-profile competitions and yet hardly anyone is even talking about it. Shocking. The differences in gender treatment in top-level competitions is certainly in need of more coverage. It makes me think of Caster Semenya (a South African athlete) who was also under major public scrutiny after her 800m victory. This rather informal article raises some important questions that I thought you may be interested to read: http://fittish.deadspin.com/what-happened-to-caster-semenya-1575171460
“Just consider that for a second—consider the very real possibility that to make Semenya more of a “woman,” the sport decided to make her less of an athlete.”