It’s hard enough getting Americans to care about soccer in this country, so what about if we tell you about the Dutch national women’s soccer team, and how they cut two lesbians — who are in a relationship together — from the team? Interested now?
Dyanne Bito (pictured, below) has been kicking balls around for nine years on the national team, and her girlfriend Claudia van den Heiligenberg (pictured, left) is a four-year veteran. They’ve been dating at least a year and a half. So did their intra-team romance have anything to do with Coach Vera Pauw (pictured, right) dismissing them?
The team’s coach, Vera Pauw, has stated that, although Heiligenberg’s performance had been slipping, she would still have had to cut her and Bito from the line-up if her performance had been stellar. Pauw was hesitant to give a clear reason for her actions and only spoke of ‘private affairs’. It is the first time Pauw has made the difficult decision to remove one or more players from her team.
Now, no one involved has stated that the dismissal of the two women is related to their relationship. While coaches tend to be hesitant towards relationships in teams, the two have been dating for a long time, so if this is a reaction to them being together, it comes at a rather late date.
On the other hand, if the dismissal is related to their relationship, it is a rather big step back for the Dutch sports world. Especially in (Dutch) women’s soccer, it’s not a secret that a lot of the players are either bisexual or gay.
Coach Pauw says it’s “absolute nonsense” (we’re translating) to assume the pair were let go because of their romantic relationship. But Heiligenberg says it’s impossible to think they were let go because they were bad players.