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International Pressure, FIFA being useful?

I am subscribed to various newsletters and get emails about all sorts of topics. I usually do a quick scan, and then delete. This one caught my eye, and is from an organisation called All Out.

It caught my eye for a few reasons. Its significant because it highlights the fact that inequality, discrimination and injustice is endemic in the international community. Globalisation has meant that the democratic world has regular and diverse contact with countries like Nigeria, who in this case has allegedly conducted a witch-hunt to remove lesbians from the Nigerian female national football team.

Joseph Blatter...given an
opportunity to rebuild his credibility
International sporting events give a valuable opportunity to publicly increase pressure on countries that do not respect their citizens human rights. Most countries, including Nigeria, value their place in the international community and criticism of their regimes during events like the world cup and olympics can bare fruit. Expelling Nigeria from the next world cup would send a clear message from the international community that discriminatory behaviour is unacceptable. Isolation is not good for a countries economy, politics nor is it good for a developing countries future.

I publish the email from in full below. We all no doubt agree that discrimination is totally unacceptable and that alone should be enough to support this campaign. Keep in mind the collateral effects of increasing international pressure and the threat of isolation.


Dear friend,

Even before the Women's World Cup 2011 kicks off this Sunday, the rules have already been broken. 
This week the New York Times reported that the Nigerian Football Federation has been conducting a witch-hunt to kick women off the national team² “not because they were bad players, but because they were lesbians.”

For so many young women around the world, playing at the Women’s World Cup is a dream come true. Can you imagine being kicked off your football team because of who you love? 

This Sunday, Nigeria is going to take the field for the opening game of the Women's World Cup. Can you sign the petition telling FIFA--football's international governing body--to publicly condemn this kind of systematic discrimination? Tell them that homophobia has no place in the league. We'll deliver your comments to FIFA next week, during the games.

This should be a no-brainer for FIFA, which has a long history of standing up to discrimination around the world. In 1961 FIFA expelled South Africa from the World Cup because of its racist apartheid system, readmitting them only in 1991 after the release of Nelson Mandela. In 2001 FIFA passed the Buenos Aires Resolution against racism, and followed it up with an ambitious “Say No to Racism” campaign, in response to the problem of racist taunts hurled at players around the world. And just last year the FIFA president responded to international pressure and apologized for a remark offensive to LGBT people, saying, "it was not my intention and never will be my intention to go into any discrimination ... this is exactly what we are against."

Now, as LGBT people around the world are gaining visibility and participating more fully in community life, including sports, they are too often met with discrimination, and violence. This has been especially true in Africa, where right wing Evangelical movements have recently singled-out and demonized LGBT people. One of the most high-profile recent cases in sport was that of Eudy Simelane, a beloved South African football player who was raped, beaten, stabbed and left to die near her own home last year.

That’s why in Nigeria, where lesbians are sometimes ostracized and subjected to beatings, the Nigerian national football coach is playing a dangerous game with her homophobic witch-hunt. But there’s something we can do about it. In the battle against bigotry and discrimination, FIFA has real moral authority, and they can use that authority to take a clear stand against discrimination. With the Women’s World Cup launching this weekend, will you take a moment to ask FIFA president Joseph Blatter to publicly condemn Nigeria's anti-gay campaign and make clear that homophobia has no place in football?

All the best and All Out,
Andre, Erika, Guillaume, Jeremy, Joseph, Nita, Oli, Prerna, Tile, Wesley and the rest of the team at All Out