Social media cringes at sexist remark to volleyball captain on Women’s Day

A sexist remark by the Turkish Volleyball Federation Chair calling the National Women's Volleyball Team captain Eda Erdem, "a man among men" as praise, during a sculpture unveiling in her honor on International Women’s Day drew criticism on social media.

National Women's Volleyball Team captain Eda Erdem (L) reacts to the sexist remark with Fenerbahçe Sports Club President Ali Koç (R)

Duvar English

Turkish Volleyball Federation President Mehmet Akif Üstündağ on March 8 drew criticism on social media as he used a sexist remark to congratulate the Women's National Team captain Eda Erdem during a sculpture unveiling in her honor. 

During the unveiling ceremony, Üstündağ praised Erdem. “Just what a captain should be, a man among men,” he said, using a common Turkish saying to denote a proper and honorable person.

The statue of Eda Erdem by sculptor Pınar Öktem Doğan is inspired by an iconic photo from the 2019 Women's European Volleyball Championship 

The speech went viral on social media, as users criticized Üstündağ for using the famously sexist remark on International Women’s Day.  

The incident highlighted the built-in sexism and gender bias in the Turkish language. 

Under captain Eda Erdem, the Turkish Women's Volleyball Team achieved a remarkable feat by winning all seven matches in the 2024 Paris Olympics Qualifiers, which also served as the 2023 World Cup. 

Over the last few years, their consistent success has invigorated national interest in the sport, as thousands gathered in parks to watch the matches on giant screens.

Despite their success, the team has been attacked by many Islamists in the country for reasons such as the sexual orientation or outfits of the players. 

The Volleyball Federation had also drawn criticism for flying out the victorious team in economy class during its international tour, while the national men’s football team has been enjoying a private plane even during domestic travels.