More than half of the world’s top female footballers believe their clubs do not have enough backroom staff to support them, according to the 2020 women’s football report by the global players’ union, Fifpro.
Having targeted players from the 24 nations at the 2019 World Cup and the biggest leagues, the four positions that senior internationals have highlighted as woefully lacking at their clubs were physiotherapists, team doctors, massage therapists and assistant coaches.
The revelation comes at a time when a spotlight is highlighting the large number of injuries suffered by elite female footballers.
Of the 57% who called out their clubs for a lack of support, 6% of them also pointed out a similar lack of personnel within their national team setups . Players also highlighted a “lack of proper sporting infrastructure”, including substandard training facilities and stadiums, in the second survey into women’s football by Fifpro. The first one was published in 2017.
Fifpro said: “Financial investments in the game and economic growth do not necessarily lead to improved or proper conditions for the players nor automatically translate into a better game.”
Fifpro, in a “call to action”, also appealed for the introduction of minimum labour standards and, where not yet afforded, professional recognition for players globally. “The rights, interests and well-being of players must be properly safeguarded during this important period of industry development,” a statement said.
“Fifpro maintains that in order to create any lasting foundation for the professionalisation of the game, a set of global labour standards for the working conditions of professional female players must be established.”
They include demands such as the right to written contracts, protection in the workplace, regular wages and collective bargaining.
Fifpro also called for the introduction of a set of minimum standards (relating to facilities, accommodation, transport, preparations and scheduling) for competing at international tournaments to ensure players can “perform at their peak”.
While acknowledging that there is “great variance” across regions and that “no single formula is going to serve as a one-size-fits-all model”, Fifpro also insisted that “economic growth must be grounded in the establishment of labour standards” and that “ultimately, when labour standards are in place, growth can equate to higher standards of play, more professional clubs, and stronger competitions on all fronts. This has the potential to be a virtuous cycle.”