The FEMALE Elephant in the Room

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Football Dreams

Everyday I wake up excited and eager, jumping out of my bed to catch up on football news (ok maybe that’s a bit of a fib, I usually roll around for at least 20 minutes hoping Covid-19 is just something I dreamed of after watching a weird docuseries on Netflix last night, before I force myself out of bed). Once I am up and have my coffee, my daily habit of checking messages where friends have copied interesting articles around the world of football chatter begins. Which teams want the leagues to stop? Who believes this should be a ‘saison blanche’ (as though the year thus far never happened and last year’s results hold)? Which teams have started training in pairs? Who believes such and such and what they should do, and on and on. Yet nowhere, not even in the find print does it say: Women.

 

Priorities

Like most of the world I believe 1. We have to focus on health and safety. 2. We need the economies to go back up and then somewhere (insert whichever fitting number) Football is the most important of the least important things. But, what they really mean is men’s football is the most important. From one perspective I understand that we still live in a world where men’s football creates more jobs, revenue, etc but women have fought hard to be where they are today. Fifa showed over a billion views of the WWC 2019, yet no one is speaking about it. At least not that I can find.

UEFA

When UEFA announced the postponement of the Euro 2020 to 2021, it was/is assumed that the women’s tournament would then be postponed also. The Danish FA came out formerly announcing that April 1 and other media sources followed up.  However, I still have found no confirmation of UEFA officially speaking about the women’s tournament or more just lumping it in with things to be dealt with at a later date.

Another article I was able to find was from L’Equipe, which discusses the difficulty women’s clubs will have continuing the season when most are connected to a men’s team and those men’s teams are struggling. If the men’s teams need to cut cost (which they most likely will) the first thing to go will be the women’s sections. This means the league with arguably the two best women’s teams in the world Lyon and Paris Saint Germain, will no longer be able to finish the season. Let’s put aside the men vs women discourse or how women’s teams are totally under funded the way it is, but discuss the women who have worked for years to get where they are. Working all day and/ or going to school to get to training in the evening to compete in the game they love. Their season will be ripped out from under them and not just this season. There’s reason to believe teams that are struggling financially now will continue to struggle through the summer. Meaning next season may find far fewer women’s teams registering for the leagues.

World Cup Success

WWC 19 was so refreshing. It showed that while we have a way to go, the women’s game was really picking up steam. Some quick reminders, to name just a few;

  • Nike sold more of the US Women’s National Team jerseys on its website than it has of any other football jersey in their history.
  • When the Lionesses of England took on USA in the semi-finals it was the years most watched programming with 11.7 million
  • A combined 1.12 billion viewers tuned in to watch the FIFA Women’s World Cup 2019 across all platforms.
  • In France, little girls signing up to play football went up by over 20%

 

The list for how the WWC 19 improved women’s football goes on and on, yet now, less than a year later all the progress seems ready to fall by the waste side.

 

Where do we go from here?

In truth, as the world comes to terms with this pandemic and living in uncertainty it is clear that women’s football is not at the forefront of anyone’s minds. Yet, for a slim minority, football and dare I say women’s football is the most important of the least important things. Because of that I only ask that from now on when speaking about, writing about and maybe even thinking about football we take a moment to consider what all this means to the women whose blood, sweat and tears have elevated the women’s game and how quickly they and everything that they have worked so hard for will be forgotten.

 

5 COMMENTS

  1. Thank you for drawing attention to the matter. It would be interesting to see what kind of effect COVID-19 will have for all women’s teams. Just as we were moving forward. 😣

  2. I would start by mentioning how interesting it is that for many football clubs, men and women are separated in terms of attention, allocated resources and discussions. But now, when facing money problems, they are so closed that it is time to cut the least “preferred” of them both?
    Now, in a more diplomatic note, innovation with few resources is demanded and clubs should see women’s football as an practical example on how to accomplish a lot with few. Academies, for example, are full of youngsters ready to step up and play without asking incredibly high salaries. They just want an opportunity to show their talent. Fitness has become one of the most successful industries during this pandemic and you have at least 23 fit footballers ready to teach how to perform as an elite sportsperson. And plenty of other ideas that I am sure are being studied in several places.

    Of course austerity is key but even more important is bringing best practices from successful cases. Why giving away an asset that can teach you how to survive while striving?

    Thank you, Arianna. There is a lot to discuss and think about this ELEPHANT.

  3. Thanks for sharing your perspective Arianna. Greater support and attention to Women’s sport will be need of the hour, can’t let the momentum diminish.

  4. Thanks Arianna for a good and thought provoking article.

    I do want to have more discussions about this, so glad you are bringing it up!

    BTW my club FC Nordsjaelland is ahead of many in Europe and the world when it comes to women’s department. They train on the same field, have the same facilities etc as the main team etc. Right 2 Dream academy that owns the club has a both girls and boys live at the facilities. Super proud of our initiatives.

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