Soccer champ Nilla Fischer has revealed that she and her teammates on Sweden’s national team had to “show their genitalia for the doctor” at the 2011 Women’s World Cup to prove that they were cis women.
Fischer bares all in her new autobiography I Didn’t Even Say Half of It, where she describes the “humiliating” experience of showing her vagina to a designated physiotherapist.
“We were told that we should not shave ‘down there’ in the coming days and that we will show our genitalia for the doctor,” wrote Fischer.
The reveal at that year’s World Cup in Germany was prompted by accusations from Nigeria, South Africa, and Ghana that Equatorial Guinea had men on their squad.
“No one understands the thing about shaving but we do as we are told and think ‘how did it get to this?’ 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 jeopardize the opportunity to play at a World Cup. We just have to get the s**t done no matter how sick and humiliating it feels.”
Two weeks before the tournament, FIFA issued a policy requiring teams to sign a declaration guaranteeing players are “of an appropriate gender.” That policy is still in effect.
After the African accusations, FIFA demanded immediate testing.
“I understand what I have to do and quickly pull down my training pants and underwear at the same time,” Fischer told Swedish newspaper Aftonbladet. “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.”
Fischer credits staff for making the odious experience bearable.
“We had a very safe environment in the team. So it was probably the best environment to do it in. But it’s an extremely strange situation and overall not a comfortable way to do it.”
Sweden’s team doctor at the time, Mats Börjesson, was circumspect.
“FIFA doesn’t do this to be mean to anyone,” he said. “The sports world has tried to create fairness for girls so that they don’t train their whole lives and then someone comes in with an unreasonable advantage.”
While a physical exam is expeditious, buccal swab testing to collect DNA in the mouth is the more common method used to determine sex.