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Global Sport Unites Behind #WeStandWithLama Campaign

Over 40 athletes, coaches and support staff from around the world of sport have co-signed a letter to the International Handball Federation in support of Lama Elshawarby and equitysport's campaign against gender discrimination in Egyptian Handball.

The group, which includes, British 400m Champion; Laviai Nielson, International Hockey Player; Kareena Cuthbert, International Rugby Player; Jessica Kavanagh, International Cricketer; Constanza Sosa, Former International Footballer Becky Easton, and International Wheelchair Basketballer; Joy Haizelden, have called on the International Handball Federation to launch a formal investigation into female representation and gender discrimination at the Egyptian Handball Federation, and to make the findings of such an investigation public.


Amber Stobbs, equitysport ambassador and professional footballer said of the letter and campaign:


"A better, more equal, more inclusive sports world is possible - but realising this goal is a collective endeavour. Whatever the sport, or the country, we can't achieve equality in world sport without supporting each other. Together, we have to act as one, so I'm really proud to stand with Lama and her teammates today."


The letter and list of co-signatories can be read in full below:

FAO President

International Handball Federation

Peter Merian-Strasse, Basel, Switzerland


Dear Mr Hassan Moustafa,


Re: The Egyptian Handball Federation, Female Representation & Gender Discrimination


We are writing in support of the campaign by the charity equitysport to protect the rights of female Egyptian Handball players. We represent ourselves, as individuals, who have united behind the brave women in Egypt fighting for their right to participate fully in the sport they love.


The campaign has successfully brought the attention of the IHF to the efforts by female handball players to establish a women's national team in Egypt. The campaign has been rejected out-of-hand by the Egyptian Handball Federation; a decision that jeopardises the commitments of the Egyptian Handball Federation and the International Handball Federation to equality, and non-discrimination.


There have been multiple reports in the international media from current players and a member of the Egyptian Handball Federation (EHF) board quoting the President of the EHF: Hisham Nasr as having suggested that the real reason there is no senior women’s handball team in Egypt is that:


“The girls are not ready, the girls get married, the girls get fat.”

— Hisham Nasr; President of the Egyptian Handball Federation*


*As reported by Mona Amin (EHF Board Member) - BBC Sport Africa


We, the undersigned, wish to make it clear that this is not only a matter of equality and equal opportunity, two things that take time to translate from policy into practice, but of brazen gender discrimination; barring athletes who have earned the right to compete internationally from the opportunity to do so on the basis of, among other things, their gender, possible future marital status, and generalised misconceptions about their bodyweight.


The federations set up and charged with protecting the sport of handball and the interests of all its participants, male and female, are actively, or through complacent inaction, upholding broad but highly damaging cultural norms; that sport is an exclusively masculine activity and that the participation of women is periphery to the development of the sport in general.


We call on the International Handball Federation to immediately launch a formal investigation into female representation and gender discrimination at the Egyptian Handball Federation, of which the findings must be released to the public.


Yours sincerely,


Amber Stobbs, Professional Footballer

Kareena Cuthbert, International Hockey Player

Laviai Nielsen, Professional Track Athlete

Laura Tulloch, Sports Physiotherapist

Jessica Kavanagh, International Rugby Player

Sian Kelly, Women’s Development Officer (Cricket Argentina)

Becky Easton, Professional Footballer

Maria Schmidt, Handball Player & Coach

Ashleigh Spiliopoulou, Track & Field Athlete

Sarah Jones, Professional Hockey Player

Tom Bryan, Performance Coach

Chloe Morgan, Professional Footballer

Evie Clarke, Footballer

Maria Castiñeiras, Cricketer

Hannah Churchill, Professional Footballer

Joy Haizelden, International Wheelchair Basketballer

James Phillips, Strength & Conditioning Coach

Garnet Mackinder, Pro Rugby Player

Amy Green, Footballer

Carla Comaschi, Cricketer

Sam Martinez, International Rugby Player & Coach

Felix Ayobo, Sports Scientist

Megan Stow, Semi-Pro Footballer

Tova Derk, Semi-Pro Rugby Player

Marie Kelly, Professional Cricketer

Julieta Cabal Cullen, International Cricketer

Caradh O'Donovan, Athlete

Ellie Leek, Professional Footballer

Rebecca Kearney, International Rugby Player

Martin Berger, Handball Journalist

Stephanie Rodrigues Anes, Semi Pro Footballer

Malena Lollo, International Cricketer

Lois Roche, Professional Footballer

Rachel Taylor, Rugby Coach

Megen Lynch, Footballer

Sydney Gregson, Professional Rugby Player

Edgar Kazibwe, Sports Psychologist

Helen Ward, Footballer

Constanza Sosa, International Cricketer

Ellie Purnell, Coach

Steven Rafferty, Performance Nutritionist

Grace Wangondu, Sport Scientist

S Williams, Footballer

Megan Comley, Former Professional Rugby Player

Emma Jane Plewa, Semi Professional Footballer

Kate Natkiel, Professional Footballer

To find out more about the ongoing #WeStandWithLama campaign, click HERE.

Work or compete in sport and want to become a co-signatory to the letter, sign HERE.


Notes to Editors


For interviews or further comment from equitysport Chief Executive: Tim Harper, please call +44 (0) 7869516106 or contact the team via campaigns@equitysport.org

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