In another upsetting defeat for queer women in the sports world, Dutch newspapers reported Tuesday that two women were booted from the Netherlands soccer team this week — allegedly because they were lovers. (Hat tip, @sharony882.)
Dyanne Bito and Claudia van den Heiligenberg were removed from the Netherlands national team selection by their coach Vera Pauw for “personal reasons,” according to the international lesbian website Feromoon Lesbian United Safe Haven. The site translated some other news reports as well.
Dutch newspaper AD spoke with Pauw, who said the duo was removed because their behavior “was not having a positive influence on the performances,” but many believe they were removed because they were in a lesbian relationship.
“The coach herself has hinted in that direction by indicating that the decision isn’t based on performances on the pitch,” Feromoon reports. Pauw told the newspaper “Even if Claudia had been performing perfectly I still would have had to remove her from the squad together with Dyanne.”
Hmm. Was it blatant homophobia? Lesbian drama? Both? The players aren’t talking.
“It’s private,” Bito and Van den Heiligenberg told the press. Van den Heiligenberg told another Dutch news source, “It’s such an honour to play for the Dutch national team. I hope that I will be able to do that again in the future.”
The incident is the first time Pauw, who is considered a “ground breaker” in women’s soccer, removed players from the team. She was the first coach to lead the Netherlands team to a senior women’s finals, the first woman to complete the KNVB’s (or Royal Dutch Football Association’s) CBV coaching diploma and is a member of Union of European Football Associations Women’s Football Committee.
Of course, just because she is super-accomplished does not mean she is not a homophobe, but I’m sure more will come out on the matter soon enough.
Also, Pauw may be looking to move things around due to the team’s recent performance, Feromoon reports. After reaching the semi-finals last summer, the team lost to Norway and drew with Belarus in the qualifier matches and their chances at reaching the World Championships in Germany in 2011 are “as good as lost.”