August 24, 2021



The president of Tanzania has made bizarre remarks about the country’s female footballers, warning that people “might think they are men” if they have flat chests and suggesting their faces could make them unattractive.

Speaking at Tanzania’s State House while hosting the nation’s men’s under-23s team, Samia Suluhu Hassan – the country’s first female president – appears to have painted a bleak picture for their female counterparts.

The 61-year-old said that men “want someone who is attractive” but is evidently worried that people “might wonder” about the attractiveness of potential wives playing for Tanzania when they look at their faces.

“If we bring them here and line them up, for those with flat chests, you might think they are men – not women,” AFP quoted Hassan as remarking, saying that attractive “qualities have disappeared” among the Twiga Stars’ squad members.

“And if you look at their faces, you might wonder… because if you want to marry, you want someone who is attractive, a lady who has the qualities that you want.

“Today, they are making us proud as a nation when they bring trophies to the country – but if you look at their lives in the future, when the legs are tired from playing, when they don’t have the health to play, what life will they be living?”

Hassan called for female players to be looked after in their retirement and spoke about her own struggles to overcome sexism, revealing that some of her government workers “dismissed me at first as just another woman” before “they soon accepted my leadership.”

She described marriage as “just a dream” for single sportswomen in comments that have not been well-received in some quarters.

“Isn’t this equal to saying life is meaningless without marriage?” asked one viewer, while another responded: “I feel ashamed that these remarks come from the president of my country.”

“Imagine if those words if were from a male president,” pondered one. “There would have been a lot of [complaints sent on social media] to UN organizations.”

Others praised Hassan for speaking her mind, agreed with her sentiments and claimed she had been misinterpreted.

“Some people will always be hated for speaking the truth,” said one. “Whether you like it or not, female athletes, footballers don’t seem attractive at all.”

An apologist for Hassan added: “I don’t think her remarks about female footballers were distasteful, nor insensitive.

“She was making emphasis and her logic and point was taken way out of context, rubbing some people up the wrong way.”

Hassan is considered by some to be the only active head of state leading an African country, with others taking up more ceremonial duties.

The president was appointed in March after John Magufuli, who caused controversy by banning girls who were pregnant or mothers from attending school, died from heart complications.

The Tanzania women’s team is currently preparing for the COSAFA Women’s Championship in South Africa next month.

Head coach Bakari Shime wants the tournament to set his side up for their subsequent Women’s Cup of Nations Qualifiers.

c. RT