The world soccer governing body FIFA has issued a letter to the Nigerian Football Association in warning over recent reports that lesbians are being banned from playing football in the West African country.
The head of the Nigeria Women Football League (NWFL) Dilichukwu Onyedinma had been reported as saying that lesbians, if discovered, would be barred from playing soccer in the country.
“Any player associated with it will be disqualified,” she is quoted as saying.
Although FIFA has anti-discrimination policies in place, for many African countries such as Nigeria where homosexuality is illegal, it has confounded an already difficult situation.
The letter, which was not published publicly, comes at a time when Nigeria’s President Goodluck Jonathan is set to sign into law a bill that specifically bans same-sex marriage in the country.
According to the legislation, when inked, it would make any homosexual gathering, including those at sports clubs, illegal and violators could face up to 14-years in prison as a result.
In a speech at the NWFL’s recent annual general assembly, Onyedinma is reported to have said that lesbian players would no longer be eligible for the Nigeria women’s national team and would “be sacked” from their club sides.
The Super Falcons have won the Africa Women’s Championship eight times, but exited the 2011 Women’s World Cup at the group stage and did not qualify for London 2012.