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Why female football is still moving at a snail's pace

Saturday 24th February 2018

An average female footballer can do everything her male counterpart can. She can run, pass, shoot, dribble, make a tackle, and all the rest. Still, it would be foolhardy to expect the same physical contributions from both sexes. Males are built to be physically stronger than females. Therein comes the need for separation. Despite that, the question remains. If women can do everything on the pitch that men can, why is women’s football developing so lethargically?

FIFA does deserve credit for her contributions to women’s football. Over the years, the governing body has initiated various development programmes and organized major competitions and events to support the growth of women’s football.

FIFA’s impact has been felt. There’s been a marked improvement in the quality of women’s football. Tournaments are enjoying better attendance. Prize money has increased. More women are getting involved in football management, officiating and governance. Kudos to FIFA.

Howbeit, the women’s game still needs help, and not just from football’s umbrella body. Progress has been slow due to many conditions:

Beggarly wages

Last year, a FifPro report offered shocking insight into the deplorable working conditions in the female game. Even in the Women’s Super League in England, players are grossly underpaid. More than 88% earn as low as £1,500 per month. When you compare a female player's average salary to her male counterpart in the Premier League, who earn an average of £200,000 monthly, it’s easier to understand why 58% of female players in the top tier are considering quitting due to financial reasons.

The situation is worse in other parts of the world. Many female footballers are playing without pay. Even when they win competitions, prize money is beggarly. This must change. Development will continue to be retarded if female footballers cannot earn a viable living playing this beautiful sport.

Poor support from clubs

Many women footballers have no written contracts with their clubs. Even in Europe and America. This ugly truth allows clubs to treat their footballers how they wish. The Fifpro report revealed 88% of WSL footballers do not have health insurance. Twenty-six percent said their clubs do not cover all expenses.

If this can go on unhindered in England and Spain, the thought of what happens in underdeveloped countries is frightening.  

Lack of sponsorship

Women's football continues to cry out for sponsors. That cry is not being heard. With greater sponsorship, the game's growth would be rapid. Finance wouldn’t pose such a challenge. With the right sponsors, football could be brought to girls at the grassroots. Development wouldn’t lag so far behind the men's game.

The business potential in women’s football is not being harnessed by sponsors in the sports industry. They’re missing an opportunity.

Gender inequality

We can trace the root of nearly every problem of the women’s game to gender inequality. This sickening prejudice has cost us a lot. In some cultures, women are not even permitted to play football.

In Europe many talented female footballers still play the sport as a hobby rather than a full-time career. Fans are allowed to pay less or nothing to watch women's matches. Stadiums are almost empty while their games are played.

Until recently, women typically held one voting position in FIFA's Executive Council or none. Thanks to Gianni Infantino’s administration that ugly trend is changing. Six elected women now hold voting positions on the Council. Better still, Fatma Samoura occupies the office of FIFA Secretary General. It took 112 years for a woman to be trusted in that position. That’s far too long.

If we must get out of this muddle, all hands must be on deck. That includes football's governing bodies, the fans, and women ourselves.

Elsie Johnson

Elsie is an ardent follower of everything football. Fascinated by professional football in Spain, England and Germany. She takes pleasure in penning down her opinion about a sport that has more lovers than haters.

PS: She loves Barcelona for making football look easier than it actually is.

Total articles: 44

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