28 October 2019

PTG2019: 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, despite promising to do so at Play The Game 2019. 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 Regulations are no longer in use and will be removed from FIFA’s internet site, promised Federico Addiechi, Head of Sustainability & Diversity at FIFA on 14 October, 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 will remain on the site, as they are still used by certain national associations in order to gender test female athletes. Two weeks later, the Regulations (PDF below) are still listed as an official medical document on FIFA’s internet site here.

“FIFA is serious about human rights work”, said Addiechi at At Play The Game, using the example of the sanctioning of Afghan football officials for the sexual assault of female players as proof. Keramuudin Karim, former President of the Afghanistan Football Federation (AFF) and a former FIFA Standing Committee member, was sanctioned with a life ban for sexually assaulting female players. Sayed Aghazada, a former General Secretary of the AFF, a FIFA Standing Committee member and a member of the Asian Football Confederation’s (AFC) Executive Committee, was also sanctioned with a five year ban for being aware of the abuse and failing to report it.

However, it later emerged that FIFA’s 2018 Code of Ethics only prohibited ‘sexual harassment’ and didn’t cover sexual abuse. In June, FIFA included sexual abuse as an offence in its 2019 Code of Ethics, introducing a minimum sanction of ten years. At Play The Game, it was pointed out that FIFA’s internet site still features a video of Karim accepting a 2013 FIFA Ballon D’Or Fair Play award. That video (below) also hasn’t been removed from FIFA’s internet site and is available here.

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