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:
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.
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
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 firstname.lastname@example.org