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Coronavirus: Fears growing for women’s football

PUBLISHED: 16:00 17 April 2020

Arsenal's Jill Roord fires goalwards against Lewes in the Women's FA Cup (pic Gavin Ellis/TGS Photo)

Arsenal's Jill Roord fires goalwards against Lewes in the Women's FA Cup (pic Gavin Ellis/TGS Photo)

©TGS Photo tgsphoto.co.uk +44 1376 553468

Many female footballers are at risk of losing their livelihoods due to football’s global shutdown caused by the coronavirus outbreak, according to a report by players’ union FIFPRO.

West Ham Women's Gilly Flaherty (left) and Chelsea Women's Ramona Bauchman during the Women's Super League match at Rush Green Stadium, London.West Ham Women's Gilly Flaherty (left) and Chelsea Women's Ramona Bauchman during the Women's Super League match at Rush Green Stadium, London.

In the report, FIFPRO said women’s football was especially exposed to the crisis due to its less-established professional leagues, lower salaries, narrower scope of opportunities, uneven sponsorship deals and less corporate investment.

Jonas Baer-Hoffmann, FIFPRO’s general secretary, is concerned investments in the women’s game may stall.

“It has been on an upward trend, but a positive trend can still be quite fragile,” Baer-Hoffmann said.

“We do see a threat that certain programmes will shut down or not see the same attention as before.

Tottenham Hotspur's Hannah Godfrey looks dejected after the FA Women's Super League match at The Hive, Barnet.Tottenham Hotspur's Hannah Godfrey looks dejected after the FA Women's Super League match at The Hive, Barnet.

“The long-term consequences [of the pandemic] in terms of the equality and the diversity in our game could be much harder hit on the women’s side.”

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The report went on to say: “They have been part of the industry growth, from the emergence out of amateur and semi-professional status into this transition towards professionals.

“It has been a long journey, and it is difficult for players to see that hard-earned recognition and visibility at risk.”

With an average contract length of 12 months, many women players would not be protected against lost wages if competitions were called off, the report said.

The report also called for more investment in women’s football and the creation of “working environments whereby players are not exploited, their rights are valued, and they are accorded full respect”.

It said women’s football should have “priority access to facilities, times and situations that enable fans to attend games, sponsors to drive revenue, broadcasters to reach wide audiences, and players to perform in optimal conditions”.

It also suggested global industry standards should be created for working conditions in women’s football.

The release of FIFPRO’s 2020 Raising Our Game – a comprehensive audit of women’s football – has also been postponed due to the crisis.


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