Progress of women’s soccer at risk as sports is brought to standstill

Reading Time: 3 minutes

The International Federation of Professional Footballers ( FIFPRO) says the recent progress of women’s soccer is at risk of being undone as the sport is brought to a standstill by COVID-19.

The women’s game could face an existential threat and many players are likely to lose their livelihoods in the aftermath of the pandemic.

Meanwhile, organisers of the US Open have announced that a decision on whether to hold the tennis Grand Slam this year amid the coronavirus outbreak will be made in June.

They are also considering playing the tournament without fans.

The US Open is both the largest and loudest of the four grand slam events on the tennis calendar.

It is held annually in New York City, which is the hardest-hit city in US. This week, the city revised its official COVID-19 death toll to more than 10 000. Last year’s US Open drew an all-time attendance – recording close to 740 000 fans.

In this video, Minister Nathi Mthethwa discusses relief for sports

Billie Jean King National Tennis Center, which is the home of the US Open, has been turned into a temporary hospital to help in the battle against the coronavirus.

The rapid spread of the coronavirus is also posing a big threat to women’s football, according to FIFPRO.

The organisation represents 65 000 professional footballers worldwide.

“I think it is fair to say that it is going to hit much harder, yes. The men’s game has more financial capital but also just more operational attention and political attention in this time of crisis and that not being applied puts a huge risk at the women’s game for being hit harder and therefore, to be thrown back many years of its development if we don’t pay attention to that now,” says Jonas Baer-Hoffman, General Secretary.

The women’s game depends heavily on international tournaments for visibility, meaning that the postponement of the Olympic Games from 2020 to 2021 was a significant blow.

In recent years, the sport has grown in leaps and bounds not only on the field of play but in its administration as well. The 2019 Fifa Women’s World Cup proved that there had been significant progress in the women’s game.

Baer-Hoffman says that many female players are dependent on representing their countries to secure an income.

“They usually have a dual income stream between their club and their national team football. Now when there are no games played many of those players will be struggling to receive that compensation from the federations which may just force them out of their professional careers. But when it comes to the tournaments themselves, they are the biggest spotlight by far and I think that the combination of the values of the women’s game which run a little bit outside of the purely commercial scope combine with the patriotism of, of course, a World Cup and everything that comes with it – that has an enormous draw in society which is fantastic. So, we need those tournaments obviously to be played,” says Baer-Hoffman.

The 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup surpassed many expectations, smashing records and proving a new era in the women’s game.

The tournament in France drew a huge wave of interest and made history on and off the pitch, reflecting an increased international commitment and investment in the sport.

In this video, the effects of COVID-19 are discussed