FIFA issues gender verification regulations for all competitions

Upon the proposal of the FIFA Medical Committee, the FIFA Executive Committee has approved the FIFA Gender Verification Regulations at its meeting on 30 May 2011. The regulations will apply for all FIFA competitions with immediate effect.

FIFA competitions are defined for specific groups determined by age and sex in order to ensure a level playing field for all players. Androgenic hormones have performance-enhancing effects, particularly on strength, power and speed, which may provide an advantage in football and could influence the outcome of the game. With respect to the integrity of football, it must be guaranteed that players fulfill the respective criteria for participation. It is a major responsibility of member associations and team physicians to ensure correct gender of their players.  

Sex and gender result from complex physical and psychological development processes, and the apparently clear differentiation between men and women may become difficult in certain situations. Therefore, next to ensuring a level playing field for all players, a major objective of the FIFA gender verification regulations is to protect the dignity and the privacy of the individual. To this end, the regulations define a standard management procedure for the gender verification of football players of both genders in case of substantiated doubt.

Individual case management is mandatory to protect the dignity and the privacy of the individual. No mandatory or routine gender testing verification examinations will take place at FIFA competitions. It lies with each participating member association to prior to the nomination of its national team ensure the correct gender of all players by actively investigating any perceived deviation in secondary sex characteristics and keeping complete documentation of the findings.

The regulations limit the legal or natural persons entitled to request a gender verification procedure at FIFA competitions to the concerned player, an association, the appointed FIFA Medical Officer or FIFA Chief Medical Officer. They further define the formal requirements of such request and stipulate that it must be supported by reasons and evidence. If the formal requirements of the request are not fulfilled, or the request obviously lacks substance and/or credibility, the request will be rejected by the FIFA Secretary General. In fact, when an unfounded or irresponsible protest is made, the Disciplinary Committee may impose sanctions.

If a gender verification procedure is opened, the approach is stepwise: the respective team physician shall provide the documents required for further investigation, such as medical history, sex hormone levels, diagnosis, treatment and current findings.  If further examinations are required, they may only be performed by an independent expert to be identified in each host country. In cases where the expert is not able to clarify the situation, an expert panel will perform a comprehensive investigation.

Sanctions may only be imposed by the FIFA Disciplinary Committee. An independent expert has been nominated to assist the procedure in case of need at the FIFA Women's World Cup Germany 2011™.