Are all female football players “of an appropriate gender” ?

Since 2011, the participating teams in the world cup have been required to sign a declaration guaranteeing that all players nominated to it were “of an appropriate gender.” This followed controversy in the 2011 women’ s African Championships final after which Nigeria filed a complaint that two of the Equatorial Guinea players were actually men. But, what does “gender verification” entail? Is it just a little peek down where the sun doesn’t shine?

FIFA have insisted that mandatory tests are carried out by team doctors for each country to prove they are eligible to play in the tournament, a process which has come under fire from anti-discrimination campaigners.

How can doctors make sure a person is from one gender or the other when hormone levels are already diverse among humans? Isn’t it a bit ridiculous?

footbal players

While there are no records of men being gender tested by FIFA (the International Federation of Association Football, which is responsible for the organization of football’s major international tournaments, including the Women’s World cup which commenced in 1991), female athletes are increasingly forced to pass gender verification tests, which has been considered unfair.

Claudia Wiesemann, medical ethicist at Göttingen University thinks that: “There’s no such thing as definite gender verification. Women can have very high levels of testosterone, but their bodies can be completely insensitive to the effects. Some people are more sensitive to testosterone, others less. Women can even have a Y chromosome and still have a female physique. Men and women are merely two extremes of a continuum, and, between these extremes, many different types are possible.”


  • Entail (v) : to cause or involve by necessity or as a consequence.
  • Peek (v) : to glance quickly or secretly.
  • Testosterone (n) : the sex hormone released by the testes that stimulates the development of male sex organs, hair growth, and sperm development.

What do you think about this controversy? Please leave us a comment!

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