Zambia captain Barbra Banda will not be permitted to take part in the Women’s Africa Cup of Nations after failing gender eligibility tests.
The forward starred at last year’s Olympic Games, scoring consecutive hat-tricks in Zambia’s opening two games.
Yet, the 22-year-old has failed to meet the gender criteria required by FIFA and the Confederation of African Football (CAF).
According to Mundo Deportivo, Spain’s daily sports newspaper, blood tests found that Banda had an excessively high level of testosterone and a “manly body.”
Amanda Kamanga, the president of Zambia’s FA (Faz), told BBC Sport Africa: “All the players had to undergo gender verification, a Caf requirement, and unfortunately she did not meet the criteria set by Caf.”
How has this happened?
While Caf has stressed that Banda’s exclusion did not come from them, Kamanaga believes the governing body is directly responsible.
“Everybody at home [in Zambia] has been made to believe that Faz did nothing and decided on their own to exclude the player,” Kamanga said.
“We the federations are compelled to undertake the tests and then we pass on the information to Caf, and Caf, equally, test the players if needs be in the tournament.
“So it will be unfair to turn around and say Caf is not part and parcel of whatever has transpired.”
Banda was named in Zambia’s squad for WAFCON, having taken medication to reduce her levels of testosterone.
However, according to the BBC, she has still not met the regulations and has thus been suspended from competing.
Three other members of the Zambia squad have allegedly been affected by gender eligibility as well, but have chosen not to feature for their country.
Who is Banda?
Bandra plays as a forward for Chinese club Shanghai Shengli and finished her first season in the Chinese Women’s Super League as the league’s top scorer, with 18 goals in 13 matches.
Her exploits at the Tokyo Olympics saw her become the first female player in Olympic history to score back-to-back hat tricks and the first to score two hat tricks in one tournament.
After her performances in Tokyo, a number of clubs were reportedly interested in signing the Zambian international and she has been liked with a high-profile move to Real Madrid.
Similarities to Semenya
Banda’s situation is similar to that of South African athletics star Caster Semenya, who is unable to compete across a number of distances because of regulations related to differences of sex development.
Semenya is currently awaiting a verdict in her case from the European Court of Human Rights, having already lost appeals at the Court of Arbitration for Sport and Switzerland’s Federal Supreme Court.