(Reuters) – The recent progress of women’s football is at risk of being undone as the sport is brought to a standstill by the novel coronavirus, the players union FIFPRO told Reuters television in on Friday.
FIFPRO said in a report published Thursday that the women’s game could face an “existential threat” and many players could lose their livelihoods in the aftermath of the pandemic.
“I think it is fair to say that it (women’s soccer) is going to hit much harder (than the men’s),” said FIFPRO general secretary Jonas Baer-Hoffmann. “It is a massive hit to the game absolutely and we must also understand it’s not just the big tournaments.”
“(It risks being) thrown back many years of its development if we don’t pay attention to that now.”
Baer-Hoffmann said that, while club football was the main source of income in the men’s game, many female players were “very much dependant in terms of their income for representing their country.”
“They usually have a dual income stream between their club and their national team football,” he said. “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.”
The women’s game also depended heavily on international tournaments for visibility, meaning that the postponement of the Olympic Games, from 2020 to 2021, was a significant blow.
“We need those events to keep driving the public attention,” said,” he said.
Arsenal captain Kim Little added that many players had been left in a “vulnerable position.”
“The circumstances that a lot of players work in are very unstable in the sense of contracts aren’t particularly long, some players have to work another job because financially they can’t just live off their footballing wage,” she said.
(Writing by Brian Homewood; Editing by Christian Radnedge)