27th November 2020

FIFA fails to remove gender verification rules

The international federation of football associations (FIFA) has failed to remove its Gender Verification Regulations from its internet site, over a year after promising to do so at Play The Game 2019. It has also failed to respond to questions from The Sports Integrity Initiative about why the Regulations remain listed in this section of its website, when FIFA has previously argued that they are no longer in use.

Federico Addiechi, Head of Sustainability & Diversity at FIFA, promised to remove the Regulations on 14 October 2019, in response to a question from Dr. Bruce Kidd of the University of Toronto. However, a source told The Sports Integrity Initiative that the Regulations would remain on the site, as they are still used by certain national associations in order to gender test female athletes. 

Extract from FIFA’s Gender Verification Regulations…

The Regulations mandate that national associations can issue a request to FIFA, supported by evidence, that a gender test should be performed on a female footballer. If the request is approved, the player’s medical history must be sent to the FIFA General Secretariat and if FIFA’s Chief Medical Officer determines that further investigation is required, ‘the player shall undergo a physical examination performed by an independent expert’.  If the player concerned refuses the physical examination, they are automatically suspended.

The Sports Integrity Initiative firstly sent questions to FIFA after it announced measures designed to protect female players earlier this month. Questions were sent again on 22 November, and a reminder was sent a day before the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women on 25 November, on which FIFA announced a partnership with the World Health Organisation (WHO), the European Commission, and the European Parliament Sports Group calling for an end to violence against women and children. 

FIFA’s statement references the UN page on International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women, which in turn references 1993’s Declaration on the Elimination of Violence against Women. ‘For the purposes of this Declaration, the term “violence against women” means any act of gender-based violence that results in, or is likely to result in, physical, sexual or psychological harm or suffering to women, including threats of such acts, coercion or arbitrary deprivation of liberty, whether occurring in public or in private life’, reads Article 1 of that document.

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