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Thread: The Salimata Simporé controversy- A Closer Look

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    Super Moderator Pope Bitterz D'Alomo's Avatar
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    Default The Salimata Simporé controversy- A Closer Look

    Seemingly the subject of protests from her opponents in every international match she plays, Salimata Simporé of Equatorial Guinea’s women’s national team is once again in the spotlight – or perhaps hiding from it.

    There have been accusations of gender cheating (she has been accused of being male or a hermaphrodite by several opposing teams – Ghana and South Africa to name but a few) and also of playing for other countries (there have been suggestions that she lined up (as the no.11) for the Côte d’Ivoire national team in March of this year against Gabon in a World Cup Qualifier).
    Salimata(#11 playing for Cote d'Ivoire v Gabon) Salimata #8 playing for Equatorial Guinea.
    The doubts over gender aside – has she actually lined up for another nation? The truth of the matter is – yes, she has. And it was not Côte d’Ivoire (without possessing the lineup for that match, this remains only an accusation). It was Burkina Faso.

    Early Years
    Salimata (squating) with her sister(standing) Bilguissa.

    The story begins with Salimata playing football for the Princesses club of Burkina Faso. She played regularly in the annual “Tournoi de Cinq Nations”, an event in Ouagadougou for club sides which over the years featured teams from Burkina Faso, Togo, Côte d’Ivoire, Mali, Niger, Benin, Senegal and Equatorial Guinea. Salimata played in the 2002, 2003, 2004 and 2005 editions, scoring in the final in 2005 as Princesses drew 2-2 with AS Mandé of Mali, before succumbing 5-4 on penalties (1). Throughout this time, she was regularly suspected to be a boy, along with her sister Bilguissa – but these accusations were apparently proven false.


    The Simporé sisters lining up for Princesses FC (www.evenement-bf.net)
    At first glance indeed, they do appear rather boyish in this photograph (right), as they both line up for Princesses in the Tournoi de Cinq Nations. L’Evènement, a monthly Burkinabé publication, mentions that they appear to have no breasts, and that opponents at the annual Tournoi de Cinq Nations regularly needed convincing that the players were indeed female, especially as their on-field demeanour and gestures veered undeniably towards the masculine. However, the publication mentions that on undressing, these controversies were generally quietened (2).

    2006 Tournoi de Cinq Nations
    In the 2006 Tournoi de Cinq Nations, her sister Bilguissa (who played for the Gazelles club, also in Burkina Faso) was allowed to play for Princesses in the tournament. This was the beginning of the eligibility concerns that still plague Salimata to this day.

    The winners of the tournament that year, Águilas Verdes [Green Eagles] of Equatorial Guinea, were not apparently satisfied with their 1.5 million CFA francs prize, but also had their eyes on a few of the Princesses players. The Simporé sisters were taken to Equatorial Guinea after the tournament, which ended on 3rd September 2006. On 30th October 2006, just 8 weeks later, they had both been naturalised as Equatoguinean citizens and were both in the Equatorial Guinea squad for the 2006 African Championship/2007 World Cup Qualifiers with new clubs, Las Vegas FC (Salimata) and Sirenas FC (Bilguissa) (3).

    Naturalisation
    An article in Faso Presse sheds some light on this dubious naturalisation process (4). The article is in French, but I will provide an excerpt in English here. The interview was conducted by Justin Daboné (from here: JD), with the president of the Gazelles team (who had allowed one of their players, the aforementioned elder sister Bilguissa to turn out for the Princesses), Denis Compaoré (from here: DC), and also mentioned in this report was the secretary-general of the Princesses club, Abdoulaye Zongo (from here: AB).

    JD: It seems that the Gazelles have lost one of their best players, who has left for Equatorial Guinea. How did this happen?

    DC: During the last Tournoi de Cinq Nations organised by Dr. Marguerite Karama, we heard that she was currently dealing with a team to place players on the outside. It was afterwards that we learned that it was the national team of Equatorial Guinea who had requested it. We were even told that one of our players was on the list. I quickly called the secretary-general of the Princesses, Abdoulaye Zongo, informing him of what we had learned. He said he was unaware of this and that if this were the case, he would not hesitate to let me know.

    One evening, he called me around 5pm and expressed his desire to meet me in my office with a team leader of Equatorial Guinea. He said he would fly in an hour with four players, including one of the Gazelles, in this case Bilguissa Simporé.

    The other three girls were from the Princesses club – Salimata Simporé, Awa Tou and goalkeeper Awa Yao, known as Farota. I received them and asked AB what he would do with these four players in Equatorial Guinea. He was unable to answer me and I told him I had no decision to make. I was not involved in the negotiations and I had to consult my office.

    JD: The four players – did they leave the same day with the Equatoguinean delegation?

    DC: Everything was finalised and the girls were accompanied to the airport by their parents.

    JD: Had the parents given their consent for them to go on the trip?

    DC: I’m sure the parents did not understand what happened. For them, their daughters had become professionals and that was the main thing. Ms. Karama began negotiations with the team officials of Equatorial Guinea without even asking our opinion. I drew the attention of AB to what was going on in the background. My player [Bilguissa] (defender) left with her little sister Salimata (striker). These were also the two best players in Burkina Faso. AB was part of the trip and he said that on his return, he would report back to me.

    JD: Report back in what sense?

    DC: Indeed, when he returned, he showed up at my office telling me that he had come with our 1,500,000 CFA Francs [Note: the same amount the Equatoguinean club side had won in prize money for winning the Tournoi de Cinq Nations]. He said that 1 million was for the Gazelles team and 500,000 was for our player [Bilguissa] and that this sum had been sent to Equatorial Guinea. I told AB that the problem was not money, but I wanted to know why my player had gone out there, who is she with and what is she doing? He remained silent and I told him to leave with the money. I would contact someone in law to clarify this matter.

    JD: When was that?

    DC: It was during the African Women’s Championship in Nigeria. Previously, I had sent a letter to the Federation to advise them that Ms. Karama had left with the girls to Equatorial Guinea without the required documents. It is suspect and she must make arrangements to do something. There was no reaction. According to our information, the four players had left solely for the national team in that country [Equatorial Guinea].

    JD: How did you find out?

    DC: Our girl Bilguissa called me to tell me that she was selected with the three other national team players [Note: Salimata Simporé, Awa Tou (Haoua Tou) and Awa Yao (Haoua Yao)] and they must go to the African Women’s Championship. From Nigeria, she always called me to give me the results of their matches. After the elimination of Equatorial Guinea in the first round, the four girls returned to Burkina Faso. Our player told me that they withdrew their passports prior to departure.

    JD: Should we think they played as “mercenaries”?

    DC: It is your responsibility to assess the situation.

    JD: What is the situation today?

    DC: Bilguissa and her sister Salimata are illiterate and they were somewhat naïve. Our player came to me with four balls and candy for her team-mates. She told me they had been called to participate in another tournament.

    JD: Did she sign with a club of Equatorial Guinea?

    DC: She said they made them sign papers and she said it seemed to be paper money, because she saw a figure of 12 million CFA Francs. It was upon their arrival before the African Women’s Championship in Nigeria. She did not know if this sum was for her only or all four players. They had embarked on this affair without taking advice.

    JD: Did the four girls previously have Burkinabé passports?

    DC: I had a passport for my player and that’s what she was playing with. When she came to sign with the Gazelles, her contract had ended with the Princesses. But they had retained her birth certificate and identity card. We had to go to city hall with the declaration in order to rebuild her papers. And so we made a passport for her. I even have a copy of the passport with me.

    As I speak, we have are in the process of suing the Federation for illegal transfer of our player (Licensee No. 5227) to Equatorial Guinea through Ms. Karama, the head of Princesses FC. We clarified that we were never involved in the player’s transfer process. As secretary-general for the development of women’s football, we are surprised that she violated the existing laws. The information we have does not show that she acts for the promotion of the women’s game, because these players lost their citizenship for the financial interests of Ms. Karama.

    Interview ends…

    Back to Burkina Faso?
    So, according to this interview, the players returned to Burkina Faso after the elimination of Equatorial Guinea from the African Women’s Championship. However, the Simporé sisters were back playing again for the Equatoguineans in Olympic Games qualifiers against South Africa in March 2007, where the South Africans accused them of being male (5). That this case was not taken further is perhaps due to the fact that the South Africans progressed 5-4 on aggregate. Had they lost the tie, they may have protested more vehemently.

    2007 Tournoi de Cinq Nations
    On September 2, 2007, less than 6 months after playing for Equatorial Guinea, Salimata Simporé was back in action in the Tournoi de Cinq Nations. Nothing unusual here, it’s a club tournament after all, isn’t it? Well, herein lies the problem. For the 2007 edition, apparently at the behest of FIFA (6), the tournament was to be competed for by national teams. Salimata’s sister, Bilguissa, was not released by her club (Gazelles) for the tournament, but Salimata herself played for the Burkina Faso national team. Except it wasn’t so straightforward. The teams at the tournament seemed confused with the new status of the tournament as a national team event. Togo were sent home after 1 match after it was discovered they were fielding a club side, and Benin were likewise ejected for showing with a youth team. The tournament was thus left with 4 teams, who were grouped into two minigroups of 2, who would play each other twice for a place in the final.

    The hosts, Burkina Faso, took on Niger in the first match and won easily, 10-0, with Salimata Simporé scoring 5 and Awa Tou (another of the naturalised Equatoguinean/Burkinabé players) also scoring. However, they almost withdrew from the tournament after their own fans turned against them during the match. The reason? They had not played in the proper national team kits! The situation was rectified, and Burkina Faso went on to beat Niger again, 5-0, this time in the proper kit. Salimata Simporé was on target again in the final on 9th September, netting a late consolation in a 4-2 defeat to Mali (7).

    FIFA Regulations on representing more than one nation
    Of course, all this begs the question – is this allowed under FIFA rules? Well, at the time, it was not allowed.

    From FIFA’s regulations at the time (8):

    “Under the terms of this new provision, up to his 21st birthday, a player who has represented an Association team in one or more matches of an official competition may henceforth request to change the Association for which he is eligible, provided that he fulfils the following criteria:

    - he has not played at “A” international level for the Association for which he is eligible at the time he submitted the request;- he had dual nationality (or more than two nationalities), at the time of his first appearance in an international match in an official competition of any category. Therefore, this provision does not apply to any players who have been naturalised after having already represented one Association. Consequently, FIFA has rejected the request submitted by Murat Mogomedov, a Russian player but now a naturalised Israeli, as he has already played for Russia.”

    Back to Equatorial Guinea!
    So, after all this – Salimata Simporé was back representing Equatorial Guinea in the 2008 African Women’s Championship, which was held in Equatorial Guinea that year. And so too was Awa Tou (9). And in this year’s edition of the African Women’s Championship, we see Salimata back once more, along with her sister Bilguissa and Awa Yao (10). Salimata has been embroiled in further controversy after she was accused of being the No.11 who lined up for a 3rd country, Côte d’Ivoire, during a previous African Women’s Championship qualifier against Gabon in March this year. A comparison of the no.11 from that particular match and Salimata Simporé playing a few days ago against South Africa is provided below for reference. The Ivorians, however, have stated that their player – Nahi Marie José (presumably the same no.11 player in the photograph) – was the player mistakenly thought by the Gabonese to be Salimata Simporé (11). In a strange coincidence, the head coach of Côte d’Ivoire in that game (Clémentine Touré) was the same coach who led Equatorial Guinea to their 2008 African Women’s Championship success on home soil.
    Strange affair
    All in all, it seems a rather strange affair, with at least two players having played for one country, then another, and then back to the first. They are by no means the only players to have been fast-tracked into the Equatorial Guinea team – with naturalised Cameroonians, Brazilians and Senegalese also making up the current squad. The naturalisation laws in Equatorial Guinea give special dispensation to the Head of State to naturalise anyone where he or she sees fit. The Head of State since 1979 has been Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo. Among the many worrying reports regarding the President is that in 2003, on state radio, a presidential aide declared “He can decide to kill without anyone calling him to account and without going to hell because it is God himself, with whom he is in permanent contact, and who gives him this strength” (12). According to the Fundamental Law of Equatorial Guinea, Article 11 (13):

    An Equatoguinean through naturalization is :

    (a) The foreigner of legal age who has resided in the Republic of Equatorial Guinea for at least ten consecutive years, who solicits and obtains naturalization papers and renounces his former nationality.

    (b) Anyone who has been adopted by an Equatoguinean.

    (c) The child of an Equatoguinean woman married to a foreigner, who opts for Equatoguinean citizenship.

    (d) Anyone who obtains the special favor of naturalization from the Head of State. The Law regulates the procedures for the choice of the Equatoguinean nationality, non-issuance and revocation of naturalization papers and the formation of a registry for all these acts.

    However, it does not appear right that once players have chosen to renounce their current nationality, they can then go back and play for their country of birth, before again deserting their homeland to play for the country that paid for their services. With Equatorial Guinea having qualified for their first ever World Cup at any level (2011 Women’s World Cup in Germany) with the help of these ‘bought’ players, it will be interesting to see what FIFA does next.

    Source- http://roonba.wordpress.com/2010/11/...roversy-again/
    Last edited by Pope Bitterz D'Alomo; 12th January 2011 at 11:43 PM.
    Beware lest you lose the substance by grasping at the shadow. ~Aesop

    Ignorance can be educated,drunkenness sobered,craziness medicated but there is no cure for STUPIDITY


  2. #2
    Godfather Fashion Yaa's Avatar
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    hm this is true saga. i feel sorry for Burkina Faso but FIFA is right, these sisters had the right to switch nationalities but the questioning their gender thing is getting out of hand. I mean what does FIFA say about it, you don't have to look overtly feminine to play on a womans team! I mean, can you imagine if women still played soccer with skirts on like our women's team used to do in the 80's? lolz

    this is a real soap opera if you ask me


    all go to the same place ;all come from dust and to the dust all return. who knows if the human spirit rises upward and if the spirit of the animal goes down into the earth?
    ecclesiastes 3:20-21 :-x

  3. #3
    ridzy
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    The presence of Salimata is controversial enough, given claims she has already played for Burkina Faso and Ivory Coast.

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