Public outcry and pressure from the Gender Equality Commissioner’s office saw the Cyprus Basketball Federation (CBF) rescind a decision to exclude the U16 girls’ national team from European competition.
Gender Equality Commissioner Josie Christodoulou said that she was pleased to see the CBF overturn their initial decision, allowing the girls’ U16 national team to play in the European championship organised by the International Basketball Federation (FIBA) this summer.
The CBF initially excluded the U16 girls’ team from international competition, claiming insufficient money to send them while cash was available for the boys’ team.
A group of parents set up an online petition, bringing the matter to the media’s attention and the gender equality commissioner.
Parliament also got involved with the House Human Rights Committee inviting the parents and the CBF on Monday.
Christodoulou said the CBF had retracted its decision to exclude the U16 girls from international competitions following meetings with the CBF boss Andreas Mouzourides and parents.
She said that after the meetings, Mouzourides had made arrangements with FIBA to accommodate the U16 girls’ participation in a grassroots European tournament this summer.
According to the same announcement, CBF chief Andreas Mouzourides committed that no exclusions based on gender will happen in the future.
Christodoulou said she would work alongside the Cyprus Sports Organisation to stamp out gender-based discrimination across the board in sport.
“The Gender Equality Commissioner’s office will actively participate in amending the Cyprus Sports Organisation Law, which is being discussed before the Parliamentary Committee on Education, to enshrine the Principle of Gender Equality in sports,” said a statement.
Lawmakers also expressed their contentment with the fact that the Under-16 national basketball team will compete abroad.
House Human Rights committee chair Irene Charalambides described the outcome as satisfying.
“We are especially pleased that our girls in U-16 basketball have been vindicated, and they will represent Cyprus in the European championships.
“Let me say it had saddened us that, despite the fact these girls gave their all and had distinguished themselves last year, going up a category, this year they risked relegation simply because they would not be taking part in these games.”
The U16 girl’s team climbed a category in international basketball, going from the third division to the second.
Had the team failed to participate in this summer’s tournament, the U16 girls would have been relegated.
This is not the first time the CBF excluded the U16 or U18 girls’ national teams, but the boys have never had such problems.
A group of parents flagged the injustice with an online campaign which collected close to 2,000 signatures in less than a week of being posted.
When parents asked why the girl’s national team was cut from competitions, CBF officials pointed to financial difficulties.
“Boys and girls should have equal rights and not be discriminated against because of the sex they happened to be born,” said the petition.