UNBELIEVABLE: Women’s Football “Abandoned” During Covid-19, Survey Reveals

A sad (but that we already knew, and feared) reality has been revealed by Fifpro’s latest survey of women’s football around the world:

Professional women footballers have been “abandoned” during the pandemic, with players’ unions in 47 countries reporting that communication from clubs and leagues has been poor or very poor.

According to the study, the global players’ union found 52% of the 62 countries questioned between July and October had national federations that did not contact women national team players, while in 26% of countries, women’s clubs weren’t included in “the return to normality” to play protocols.

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In England, the Women’s Super League was severely hampered by the first coronavirus lockdown. While the men’s Premier League returned on June 17, it was another 23 days before WSL clubs started returning to training under new coronavirus protocols.

As well as a lack of clarity in an increasingly uncertain time, the report has highlighted wage cuts, job losses (47% of the 62 countries questioned) and a lack of mental health support as contributing to the “real danger that progress towards gender equality in parts of world football will be set back years,” according to Fifpro general secretary, Jonas Baer-Hoffmann.

Baer-Hoffmann said:

“The results of this survey underline the extent to which women footballers are routinely overlooked in many parts of the world. Yet there are also positive steps by some stakeholders to invest in and support women’s football during the pandemic. We need more concerted action.”

In April, Fifpro published a report warning of the fragility of women’s football and the threat posed by the crisis as a result. Many of those concerns have been borne out, with 40% of unions reporting no health support for players, 66% not receiving physical support such as injury treatment and 84% reporting that players did not get any mental health support.

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Despite the widespread deficiencies, the pandemic has forced the hand of some federations to improve the development of their professional women’s set-ups.

Fortunately, the hope on the women’s football development is not lost yet.

For example, the Italian FA is working towards professional status for the league, a successful campaign to reverse the decision to suspend the women’s league in the Netherlands and the players’ association in the US having negotiated contract guarantees for players covering salary, housing and benefits.

Amanda Vandervort, Fifpro’s chief women’s football officer, said:

“Like most industries, women’s football is being severely affected by the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic and the findings of this survey highlight what we have said from the outset, that players and the game itself need strategic support to get them through these tough times.

“To that end, we also identified great cases of innovation and advancement in which new solutions are showcasing the unique potential of women’s football to thrive today and in the future.”

It is heart-breaking to think and see that’s the situation for women’s football right now; but it’s also good to see some FAs have put their time and effort to truly support the game as it really deserve. Now is the time to help as much as we can, and those who still not helping the women’s game to develop and grow should be ashamed and should learn for those who offered their hand; because if this continues, women’s football will never bloom to its true potential.

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