FIFPro’s hard cold facts on the realities of COVID-19

The Novel Coronavirus has had the entire world in a vice grip.

Lockdown meant everyone’s lives hit freeze frame and for athletes especially that meant their careers and potentially their salaries were halted.

No football, no traveling, no goals, no penalties, no fans...

FIFPro through their ‘African Media Conference’ hosted recently by Jonas Baer-Hoffman FIFPro General Secretary and Stephane Burchkalter, FIFPro Deputy Secretary General, opened doors to e-meet journalists from all over Africa and answered questions on the Coronavirus and how has it impacted the game. Award winning Journalists Velile Nyandu and Karabo Mokgalagadi represented South Africa and on behalf of the South African Football Players Union (SAFPU) posed questions based on their experience in the men and women’s game.

This week FIFPro shared the ‘Covid19: Women’s football survery results’ conducted in Africa and the outcomes astounding. Most of the women showed signs of “depression when it came to the uncertainty of their careers in the game, which often led to early retirement,” Amanda Van Der Vort, FIFPro’s Chief Women’s Football Officer.

Countries like Ghana, Kenya and Egypt all agreed that the game in their countries were behind when it came to formalizing the women’s game. A simple contractual agreement was lacking, signs that women’s football is seen as lesser in value than the men’s game where a contract would be a common binding agreement. There was a common thread of hardship compounded by the pandemic which seems to have retarded the games progression even more, on the continent.

What was interesting from the chat of about 20 women in the session was while the   struggles were similar it was hard to draw from a positive for the women’s game.

 SAFPU however feels differently, Romy Titus SAFPU Communications Director and   Journalist says, “The silver lining in SA has to be the fact that our attitudes determine   our altitudes. Chat to a woman footballer and you’ll feel the energy and optimism that   exists in the face of a neglected set-up for women’s football, one which I’m even ashamed to describe. It is this energy and optimism that fuels the desire and love and without it – we might as well give up on women’s football.”

Other interesting facts from the survey show that 24% of unions reported that women’s contracts were changed or terminated during the pandemic, 47% reported that club salaries were either not paid or eliminated and 27% reported no financial support offered by clubs.

While the pandemic is far from over, there is comfort in the fact that no country stands alone. Rebuilding would be a good conversation to have, however how do we rebuild when the disease is still with us, with fears of a second wave?

FIFPro realizes these hurdles and pledges to continue being the voice of reason in the midst of the pandemic, while SAFPU promises to assist, advocate and fight for the rights of the women’s game in South Africa.

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