Tanzania’s President Samia Suluhu Hassan [photo courtesy]

Tanzania’s President Samia Suluhu Hassan has faced widespread criticism for describing the nation’s female footballers as having “flat-chests” adding that they would not be attractive candidates for marriage.

Hassan made the comments at a ceremony on Sunday to celebrate the victory of a national men’s team in a regional football championship.

In a video that has since gone viral on social media platforms, Suluhu said: “For those who have flat chests, you might think they are men and not women

“And if you look at their faces, you might wonder, because if you want to get married, you want someone who is attractive, a lady who has the qualities you want,” she pointed out, maintaining that in the case of the players “those qualities have disappeared

“Today they make us proud as a nation when they bring trophies to the country, but if they look at their lives in the future, when their legs are tired of playing, when they are not healthy to play, what life will they lead?”

She further asked in reference to the athletes, and considered that “the life of marriage is like a dream for them”.

 “Because even if one of you takes them home as your wife, your mother will ask you if it is a woman or a partner,” she added.

Hassan’s comments were widely criticized online;

Liberatus Mwang’ombe said: “Pres @SuluhuSamia  makes rude remarks on young girls’ soccer team. She affirms that their flat boobs make them unattractive & don’t stand a chance to get married. Magufuli banned pregnant girls from going to school. Samia sustains the ban & makes fun of poor girls w/ flat boobs.”

“The comment by president @SuluhuSamia on women footballers is a humiliation to all women,” said Catherine Ruge, the head of the women’s wing of the opposition Chadema party and a former MP.

“All women deserve respect.”

Maria Sarungi, the founder of civil society group Change Tanzania, echoed that view.

“So all those cheering a female [email protected] is denigrating female football players for having ‘flat chests’ and thus lacking attractive features necessary to get married. You must be proud @AWLNetwork,” she tweeted, referring to the African Women Leaders Network.

Hassan, who took office in March after the sudden death of her predecessor John Magafuli, is the only current serving female head of state in Africa alongside Ethiopia’s President Sahle-Work Zewde, whose role is mainly ceremonial.

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