Women’s Soccer Vulnerable to COVID-19
Economic downturns have always negatively impacted women’s soccer — how do we protect women’s soccer today from the ravishes of the Coronavirus COVID-19?
A new FIFPRO paper warns that the growth of professional women’s football and evolution into a strong and viable industry is threatened by the implications of COVID-19.
The absence of basic worker protections and global industry standards for working conditions in women’s football also means the livelihoods of female players are extremely vulnerable.
The view is part of FIFPRO’s paper COVID-19: Implications for Professional Women’s Football.
The current economic standstill could ultimately result in insolvencies of otherwise profitable and stable clubs across many markets, the paper says, adding the sector faces “an almost existential threat” unless there is adequate support for leagues, clubs, and players.
According to COVID-19: IMPLICATIONS FOR PROFESSIONAL WOMEN’S FOOTBALL, “The current situation is likely to present an almost existential threat to the women’s game if no specific considerations are given to protect the women’s football industry.”
With clear insights, this report confirms what we have always know … “While women’s football has long been viewed as a cost to the industry, it is, in fact, an asset of great value — to the sport and society — that can steer the industry in a positive and sustainable direction.”
“We’re in unprecedented times and we have a responsibility as a global football community to come together and support our industry,” FIFPRO General Secretary Jonas Baer-Hoffmann said. “If clubs, leagues, and national team competitions start going out of business, they may be gone forever.”
“Our ultimate goal must be not only to stop this happening but to build a more solid foundation for the future.”Jonas Baer-Hoffmann, FIFPRO General Secretary
The paper makes clear that football stakeholders must work together to mitigate the damage of the coronavirus, prioritizing the physical and mental well-being of players during decision-making and accounting for the unique conditions of female players and clubs. Special attention must be given to women’s international competitions because they boost the sport and drive many female players’ economic earning potential.
The paper offers recommendations for an open, collaborative approach among stakeholders that seeks and appreciates the view of the players in establishing solutions and calls for industry action from the international football community to take specific and targeted measures.
The following are among the recommendations made in the paper:
- Prioritize player care, health, safety and well-being in all decision-making processes.
- Apply special financial measures and conditions for female players, clubs, and competitions where necessary.
- Ensure that pre-crisis investments are secured and are not withdrawn from the women’s game so that we can sustain and even build momentum.
- Demand no person on the basis of their gender is excluded from any financial incentive, remuneration program or activity receiving financial assistance.
- Develop systems of solidarity and support in the football industry to help ensure the women’s game doesn’t suffer extreme damage.
“We stand with footballers, their families, and all of our loved ones around the world as together we battle COVID-19 and its impacts,” Amanda Vandervort, FIFPRO Chief Women’s Football Officer said.
“We recognize the many complex implications of this shutdown on the women’s game, and together we must address them head on,” said Vandervort who is the former president of United Soccer Coaches. “We have an opportunity to make much-needed structural changes that can benefit football as a whole. Let’s take advantage of this moment to support players and create a stable industry for the future.”
The paper is a precursor to FIFPRO’s 2020 “Raising Our Game” report which maps the recent growth and global development of the women’s football industry and will be published later this month. The Raising Our Game report on improving industry standards for professional female players was originally scheduled for publication in February 2020 and was now postponed to April due to the global health crisis.