Fighting Homophobia at the World Cup

By Michelle Garcia

Originally published on Advocate.com July 13 2011 3:00 PM ET

As the United States gears up for the Women's World Cup finals, thousands around the globe are showing their outrage over a Nigerian coach's outward stance against lesbians playing on her team.

“The issue of lesbianism is common,” Nigerian coach Eucharia Uche said in June to The New York Times. “I came to realize it is not a physical battle; we need divine intervention in order to control and curb it. I tell you it worked for us. This is a thing of the past. It is never mentioned.”

Since then the organization All Out, based in New York, has orchestrated a petition drive, asking FIFA, the governing body for international soccer, to condemn Uche's claims, and take a decided stand against homophobia. The group is also urging suspensions for any and all FIFA Football Coaches who violate this civil right.

As of last Friday, more than 45,000 people have signed the petition, and a flash mob took place Wednesday in front of the Frankfurt Football stadium before the opening whistle of the FIFA Women’s World Cup semi-final. The demonstration featured about 100 people dressed as referees, with Red Cards reading "Homophobia No."

According to the organization, the Nigerian Football Federation has conducted a witch hunt to kick women off the national team who were suspected to be lesbians.

U.K.-based gay activist Peter Tatchell expressed his support for All Out on Tuesday, and said this was a poor blemish on FIFA's record.

"The reported purge last year of lesbian players from the Nigerian women's football team by Nigerian soccer federation official James Peters is outrageous discrimination," he said. "The team's current coach has also boasted that she is attempting to remove lesbian influences from the team. These actions go against the spirit that sport should be open to everyone and that players should be judged solely on their football abilities."