He showed them all the colors. In two football matches, in May and June, Clara Cletus Luvanga scored three goals in the first leg against Cameroon’s Indomitable Lionesses U17, before – alas – causing a brawl and receiving a red card in the return leg. It was enough to disgust his opponents, unable to meet the physical challenge the Tanzanian athlete imposed on them.
Eliminated from the World Cup in this category under 17 (taking place from October 6 to 28 in India) by a team that was too strong for them, the Cameroonians wore the reserve bib number 7, which this player wears with a particularly androgynous morphology : on closer inspection, isn’t this tomboy a… boy?
What is a “real” woman?
The leaders of the African Confederation of football (CAF) also wants to know. They accepted the claim of the losers, immediately ordering gender expertise in a “neutral” country, South Africa. The appointment was made at a clinic in Johannesburg. A Cameroonian medical delegation was even invited to attend – without participating. Except that, on the said day, the player did not show up.
When questioned, CAF declared that the footballer was allegedly involved in a traffic accident between the airport and the clinic. Fact or fiction? The rest of the case raises doubts, especially because, since this missed meeting, the player’s parents no longer want to hear about expertise. We will find out later, a misfortune that does not come alone, that the hot potato went from Cairo to Zurich. Which is equivalent to a first-class funeral. The truth will wait.
Cameroonians, they don’t let go. In mid-October, they wrote to FIFA to reiterate their request for gender expertise, under “legitimate suspicion”. As everyone knows, in sports competitions, appearance is often the first sign of cheating. It was he who triggered the apparent age analyses, and, of course, the gender specializations.
On a cabbage or on a rose?
While waiting to find out if the bib number 7 was born in a cabbage like men or rather in a rose, two hypotheses are plausible: if it is established that Tanzania will choose men to beat women its opponent, then it is guilty of fraud. And no one will talk about it after the inevitable punishment given by the rules. On the other hand, if the player is actually a woman in a man-looking body, we understand the reluctance of sports authorities to follow through on their investigations.
Basketball: battle between the Malians at the Women’s World Cup
For thirteen years, the hyperandrogenism of athletes has been at the center of a media, scientific, legal and judicial battle initiated by the South African Caster Semenya, a so-called hyperandrogenic athlete, double gold medalist in the 800 meters at the London Olympics ( 2012) then in Rio (2016), that the body releases a level of androgen (male hormones represented mainly by testosterone) that is higher than normal. For most of its competitors, this difference constitutes the inequality that justifies its successes.
Her case led World Athletics (formerly the International Association of Athletics Federations, IAAF) to set a testosterone threshold of 10 nanomoles per liter of blood for athletes competing in the women’s category. In 2018, the IAAF also implemented a regulation obliging the athletes concerned to follow a treatment intended to lower their testosterone levels in order to be accepted to compete in categories from 400m to 1,000m.
Not accepting this, South Africa immediately took legal action and obtained the suspension of said regulations, drawn on the basis of a disputed scientific study, the Court of Arbitration for Sport arguing “the difficulty of proving the a real advantage in hyperandrogenic athletes at 1500m and 1000m distances”.
So far, there is no definitive truth on the subject. Francine Niyonsaba (Burundi), Margaret Wambui (Kenya) or Dutee Chand (India) live as victims of the crime of foul mouth. Instead of sweeping the dust under the rug, FIFA would benefit from clarifying the case of Clara Cletus Luvanga and then bringing the hyperandrogenic female footballer out of the place where it belongs they imprisoned.