Swedish players 'made to show their genitalia' at 2011 Women’s World Cup to prove they were female

13 June 2023, 12:33 | Updated: 13 June 2023, 12:38

Nilla Fischer playing in a friendly between Sweden and the USA at Friends Arena in Stockholm in 2021
Nilla Fischer playing in a friendly between Sweden and the USA at Friends Arena in Stockholm in 2021. Picture: Alamy

By Asher McShane

Swedish footballers were told to ‘show their genitalia’ to medical staff to prove that they were female during the 2011 Women’s World Cup, the team’s centre-back Nilla Fischer has revealed.

Fischer, who played 194 times for her country,made the shocking revelation in her new book I Didn’t Even Say Half of It.

She says Fifa had asked federations to determine whether their players were female, after three Equatorial Guinea squad members were accused of being men.

She said the gender tests were conducted by a female physiotherapist on behalf of a doctor, and described the ordeal as ‘humiliating’.

The tests were carried out after protests from Nigeria, South Africa, and Ghana relating to accusations around the Equatorial Guinea squad.

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“We were told that we should not shave ‘down there’ in the coming days and that we will show our genitalia for the doctor,” Fischer writes. “[We think:] ‘Why are we forced to do this now, there has to be other ways to do this. Should we refuse?’

“At the same time no one wants to jeopardise the opportunity to play at a World Cup. We just have to get the shit done, no matter how sick and humiliating it feels.”

She told Swedish newspaper Aftonbladet: “I understand what I have to do and quickly pull down my training pants and underwear at the same time.

“The physio nods and says ‘yup’ and then looks out at the doctor who is standing with his back to my doorway. He makes a note and moves on in the corridor to knock on the next door.

“When everyone on our team is checked, that is to say, has exposed their vagina, our team doctor can sign that the Swedish women’s national football team consists only of women.”

“It’s an extremely strange situation and overall not a comfortable way to do it,” she added.

It is unclear why the players were given a physical exam when there is a swab test available to determine a person’s sex that has been used widely for decades.

Fifa said it had “taken note of recent comments made by Nilla Fischer around her experiences and gender verification testing conducted by the Swedish national team at the 2011 Women’s World Cup”.