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‘High Testosterone’: Soccer Star Barbra Banda Ruled Out Of Tournament After ‘Gender Verification’ Test


Confederation of African Football says all the players had to undergo gender verification and 'unfortunately' Barbra Banda did not meet the criteria set by them.

Barbra Banda, the 22-year-old captain of Zambia's national soccer team and rising star in women's football, has been declared ineligible for this year’s Africa Cup of Nations after she failed "gender verification" tests, several media reports said quoting Zambian soccer authorities.

Banda had played in last year's Olympic Games where the prolific scorer netted two hat-tricks. The forward was, however, ruled ineligible for the Africa Cup of Nations because of her “high testosterone levels”, The Washington Post reported. This was one of the criteria required by FIFA, the global governing body. 

The Confederation of African Football (CAF), which runs the Africa Cup of Nations, defers to FIFA eligibility rules.

"All the players had to undergo gender verification, a Caf requirement, and unfortunately she did not meet the criteria set by Caf," Zambia's FA (FAZ) president Andrew Kamanga told BBC Sport Africa.

He added: "It's unfortunate that we find ourselves going into the tournament without our best players."

Kamanga is said to be in Morocco where the Cup of Nations is being played. Reports said he is working with the CAF “to find a solution”. Banda is also training in Morocco, according to the reports.

Barbra Banda Scored Double Hat-trick At Tokyo Olympics 

The footballer shot to international fame after recording two back-to-back hat-tricks, against the Netherlands and China, at the Tokyo Olympics last year. That was Zambia’s first appearance in women’s soccer in the Olympics.

FIFA and the International Olympic Committee have different eligibility standards for gender verification, which is why Banda could play in the Olympics but can’t in the Cup of Nations, the Post report noted.

According to FIFA’s gender verification policy, in place since 2011, “androgenic hormones have performance-enhancing effects” and hence “gender verification is of particular importance”. The document, however, does not specify any testosterone threshold.

Reuters reported last month that FIFA is in the process of updating the policy, with a spokesperson saying they are “reviewing its gender eligibility regulations in consultation with expert stakeholders”.

Banda currently plays for China’s soccer club Shanghai Shengli, but is reportedly in talks with Real Madrid for a possible move.

Meanwhile, playing without Banda, Zambia managed a scoreless draw against Cameroon Sunday, and beat Tunisia 1-0 Wednesday. Leading Group B with four points, they can make it to the knockout stage if they draw or win against Togo Saturday. With the top four teams automatically advancing to the World Cup and two more going to intercontinental playoffs, Zambia is eyeing its first outing at the coveted international event.

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