Coach Eucharia Uche
Ahead of the FIFA Women’s World Cup later this month in Germany, the coach of Nigeria’s women’s national football team, the Super Falcons, has claimed that she has removed all traces of lesbianism from the team.
Coach Eucharia Uche has told both The New York Times and Daily Sunsports that the “problem [of lesbianism in the team] has been dealt with”.
Before being appointed coach, Uche told the audience at a 2009 event on women in football in Nigeria that “some of our players indulge in lesbianism”.
But she now says that since she’s been in charge of the team, which arrived in Germany this week, this is no longer the case.
“Some of the girls played with me and they know my dos and don’ts. They know that I cannot tolerate such a nasty practice. In fact, lesbianism does not currently exist in Falcons’ camp and nobody discusses it,” she told Daily Sunsports last month.
“The players have come to know God now unlike what we had in the past. Most of them lived in ignorance, but now, they have realised the truth through proper counselling.”
She added: “We now have a bunch of players that are thirsty for the things of God and with that, they are now more committed and devoted to their games, knowing that football can attract fame, fortune and joy to their hearts quite unlike lesbianism that can ruin them.
“The Christians among them now go to church and on our own, we periodically organise non-denominational prayer sessions. We have seen the result of our efforts and I can tell you that lesbianism is now a thing of the past in the camp of the Super Falcons,” she insisted.
Rumours led to players being axed
It seems, however, that it was not simply the ‘hand of god’ that may have played a role in ‘cleansing’ the team of homosexuality.
The Nigeria Football Federation’s former technical assistant Sir James Peters has revealed that some women lost their place in the team because of their sexuality.
“When I was in charge of the Falconets, we did not allow lesbian to stay in the same room. We took time to identify all of them and checkmated them with some restrictions,” he told Daily Sunsports.
“When I was drafted to work with the Falcons last year, I decamped some of the players, not because they were not good players, but because they were lesbians. It did not go down well with some of the players because we made sure that neither the ‘husband’ nor the ‘wife’ made the team,” he said.
Uche, however, admitted to The New York Times, that she had never actually seen any lesbian behaviour among the Super Falcon players herself.
“When rumours are strong, you are bound to believe it is happening,” Uche explained.
Same-sex sexual activity is illegal in Nigeria, punishable by up to 14 years imprisonment across the country and death by stoning in 12 states that have adopted Shari’a law.