Opening weekend - 2010 World Cup
more at the boston globe's big picture feature
i mentioned this situation in a comment on a post a while ago and a lot of people didn't know about it so:
Interviews with victims of corrective rape
At the last World Cup, Fifa campaigned against racism. In South Africa, it should highlight the hate that killed Eudy Simelane
Before the start of their 2006 World Cup semi-final, players for Brazil and France stood together and held a banner declaring "Say no to racism". The gesture was part of a Fifa campaign – each of the 64 matches included a visible statement against the racist abuse directed especially at black players in Europe. From the round banner marked with this slogan which covered the centre circle until the start of the match, to pre-game statements read by team captains before kick-off, during Fifa's 2006 World Cup, players, fans and tournament organisers declared that racism has no place in football.
Imagine a similar intervention today. South Africa has the highest incidence of rape in the world. The statistics are chilling: one in two women are raped; women are more likely to be raped than to learn to read; and they have little reason to trust the law to defend their right to their own bodies.
One grisly dimension of this crisis is that black lesbians are singled out for homophobic rape and violent assault with particular frequency. In April 2008, Eudy Simelane, a former midfielder for South Africa's women's national team, was raped, beaten, stabbed and left to die in a creek 200m from her home. A shocking number of South African female athletes have been assaulted – women who dare to play a "man's game" become visible targets.
Simelane was a much-loved figure in the South African football community. The sport was her life: after her retirement from international competition, she continued to play for a local side (which lost another player to murder last year). She was one of the first women in South Africa to be certified as a referee and dreamed of refereeing at the World Cup. A cry for justice on her behalf has rallied activists in South Africa.
Her death, however, is only the most visible signal of the threat of violence levelled at South African women. It leaves a sinister mark on not only the women's game, but the men's game, too.
If the culture of sports can be a breeding ground for racist and xenophobic impulses, it is also a space in which sexist and homophobic attitudes are deeply ingrained. If racism in football culture should be stamped out, then surely the sexism and homophobia that shadows the women's game nearly everywhere, but especially in South Africa, merits at least a statement from Fifa, if not a full-blown campaign – designed by South African activists and endorsed by the world's most famous players.
Such a gesture of recognition would not change things overnight, but it would matter enormously to the women who live with the threat of violence, and to the players who take to the field in spite of it.
If Fifa and the global sports media have failed to make a connection between Simelane's story, homophobia, violence against women and the World Cup, it is because neither institution sees women – and especially black women, let alone black lesbians – as members of the global sports community. Simelane was a part of that community, and we should use this World Cup as a chance to remember her and embrace her legacy.
the full article has more links within the article and comments that are worth a read if you're interested in the story. the author, jennifer doyle, has a blog that may be of interest.