December 6, 2023
Barbara Panda plays for a club in China, but is said to be ready to move to Spain

Zambia captain Barbara Banda has been disqualified from the Women’s Africa Cup of Nations (WAFCON) after failing her gender eligibility tests.

Despite being allowed to play in the Olympics last year, the 22-year-old failed to meet the standards required by FIFA, whose gender is governed by the Confederation of African Football (CAF) in relation to the tournament.

“All players had to undergo gender verification, which is a sufficient requirement, and unfortunately they did not meet the criteria set by CAF,” Andrew Kamanga, president of the Zambian Football Association (VAZ) told BBC Sport Africa.

“It is unfortunate that we find ourselves entering the tournament without our best players.”

Zambia opened their Group C campaign with a goalless draw with three-time runners-up Cameroon on Sunday and face Tunisia on Wednesday before finishing the group with a match against newcomers Togo at the weekend.

And there is confusion over Panda’s comment, which came to prominence globally when she became the first woman to score a back-to-back Olympic hat-trick in Tokyo, with Cav saying her disqualification did not arise from them.

When asked by BBC Sport Africa on Sunday how Panda could have played in the Olympics but not in WAFCON, CAF Luxe’s ​​Director of Communications September responded by saying “there is no such decision from CAF’s medical committee”.

But the answer infuriated Kamanga, who told BBC Sport Africa that “everything that happened was just a sufficient demand”.

Banda is one of the most prolific strikers in African women’s football and is currently in Morocco and training with the Copper Queens, despite her inability to play.

“Everyone is at home [in Zambia] It was believed that Vaz did nothing and decided on his own to disqualify the player.”

“We federations are forced to run the tests and then pass the information on to Caf and Caf, both, to test players if needed in the tournament.

“So it would be unfair to go around and say Café is not an integral part of everything that happened.”

BBC Sport Africa understands that three other players in the Zambia squad have been affected by gender eligibility but have opted not to participate in the national team.

A panda in Zambia’s WAFCON squad was named after taking medications to help lower her testosterone levels, which are considered naturally high, but she hasn’t adhered to regulations yet, BBC Sport Africa understands.

The striker has been signed with Chinese club Shanghai Shengli but is said to be on the cusp of a move to Spain’s first division.

gender debate

Caster Semenya at the African Athletics Championships
South African sprinter Caster Semenya has faced gender eligibility issues for more than a decade

Gender checking is not new to sports, nor is the heated debate that accompanies it.

Multiple Olympic athletics star Caster Semenya of South Africa I’ve been in battle with world athletics for many years In an attempt to challenge gender eligibility rules.

She is currently awaiting a ruling in her case from the European Court of Human Rights after losing an earlier appeal at the Court of Arbitration for Sport and the Federal Supreme Court in Switzerland.

In football, FIFA’s eligibility rules – postponing the 2022 Women’s Africa Cup of Nations – were drawn up more than a decade ago, in May 2011.

According to the FIFA document, the rules have been introduced to ensure equal opportunity and to “protect the 2 segregation of female and male players.

The Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA) document states that “androgens have performance-enhancing effects which may provide an advantage in football”.

As a result, the amount of natural testosterone in female players is limited to certain levels, with players above those levels needing to reduce it through medication (or, in extreme cases, surgery) before they are passed eligible to play. .

Inconsistent application of the rules

Zambia striker Barbara Banda (centre) celebrates her goal with her teammates during the women's Group F first round soccer match at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games between China and Zambia on July 24, 2021.
Panda (centre) scored a hat-trick against the Netherlands and China at last year’s Tokyo Olympics

Vaz says he is concerned about the implementation of rules set by FIFA, which oversees Olympic football events among countless other tournaments.

“Barbara carried the team on her shoulders during qualifying for the Olympics, as well as the tournament itself,” Kamanga said.

“She did a good job, but now we also need to address this issue, which seems to have technically taken her out of the tournament.

“The elephant in the room has to deal with the issue of gender verification, which seems discriminatory in the sense that you seem to have it in this contest. [but not others].

“But these are professional players, who also play professional football in different leagues, where this requirement does not seem to correspond to what he is asking for enough.

“Likewise, if you go to the next level in FIFA competitions, you will now start to wonder why it should be imposed only in this competition, when it should go beyond all competitions. I think that is where we seem to be at cross purposes.”

After facing criticism for traveling with a player they knew wouldn’t meet the set criteria, Kamanga explained that they traveled with Panda in the hope that her testosterone-reducing drug had enabled her to play.

“The medical team recommended giving her a chance without being completely ruled out, and she was still given that chance until the last minute when the final team was announced,” the VAZ boss explained.

“But most importantly, she is the team leader and is just as important to building the team and ensuring spirit in the team.”

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