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Yalla Shoot :Women in Football calls for ‘change, starting at the top’ of the game to promote inclusivity

Football has to become fully gender inclusive and “change, starting at the top” says the chief executive of Women in Football (WIF), Yvonne Harrison.

The organisation has called on Fifa and national associations to introduce six measures.

They include 30% of the game’s decision makers to be female and systems to ensure that players’ views are heard.

Harrison said, that while she welcomed some progress, “across the game as a whole it’s not enough.”

Speaking in August, Fifa president Gianni Infantino was criticised when he said those looking to progress the women’s game “will find open doors. Just push the doors”.

However, of the 37 people on Fifa’s own council just 22% are women, and one of Uefa’s six vice-presidents is female.

WIF also points out that only six women are among the 140 members/delegates in the Spanish football federation (RFEF).

“If football wants to end the cycle of inequality that results in abuse and institutionalised sexism, and if the doors are truly open, then inaction is not an option.” added Harrison.

“Football has to change, starting at the top, and starting now,” added Harrison.

WIF’s six recommendations are:

  • Clear targets for diverse executive committees with at least 30% of senior decision-makers to be women.
  • National association executive committees to include independent, non-executive members.
  • National association executive committees to include independent, non-executive members.
  • Association presidents and independent members to be recruited in a formal and transparent process.
  • Policies and sanctions against discrimination, abuse, inappropriate physical contact and sexual harassment.
  • Clear pathways for reporting and dealing with violations.
  • Fit-for-purpose safeguarding and duty of care policies, including systems to ensure that players’ views are heard.

A summer of crisis

Infantino’s comments also arrived during a summer in which the women’s game has been marred by a number of high-profile incidents.

Jenni Hermoso’s filing of legal complaint over the kiss by Spanish football federation president Luis Rubiales is the latest instalment of a crisis that has engulfed the Spanish game at a time when it should be celebrating.

World-Cup winning head coach Jorge Vilda – considered a close ally of Rubiales – was sacked earlier this month and players in the top tier of women’s football in Spain have said they will strike over pay and conditions.

England’s Lionesses were also involved in a unwanted dispute over bonuses with the Football Association heading into the Women’s World Cup.

There have also been national and international complaints around the existing structures within women’s football with former Lionesses midfielder Karen Carney publishing a major review into the sport in July.

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