“I have the impression that for us women and top athletes, it’s complicated. We must always, always fight, even if it means arriving at complicated individual situations.lamented Wendie Renard on Sunday in an interview with RMC Sports. Two days earlier, the captain of the Bleues, followed by other teammates, announced her withdrawal from the selection, denouncing sporting conditions that did not correspond to the requirements of the very high level. A particularly common request in women’s football in recent weeks, in a world where the top European players see the discipline progress in clubs when the selections remain at the dock, in federations where we are satisfied to have a women’s team without him provide adequate means to perform. “Problems arise in countries, but I think it’s not a country in particular, it’s something global, said Alexia Putellas after receiving her FIFA Player of the Year trophy. We must all get together (institutions, players, etc.) to listen to each other and see what is best. » The last international break showed that many federations, including France, were not up to what women’s football should be and that if the players do not rebel, nobody will ever change anything for them.
It takes a lot of courage to go against those almighty football federations and speak the truth. The captains of Spain, Chile, France, and Canada are doing it (some with support from their teammates).
I support them 100%. Trust the players, empower them. pic.twitter.com/0hXLGYJahU
— ProfHelix24 ⚽️ 🎨 (@ProfHelix24) February 24, 2023
Canada, a strike and threats
Canada also faces a sling of players of the selection against their federation. On February 10, Canadian players announced they were going on strike in the face of the lack of consideration from Canada Soccer, the Canadian Football Federation. The Canucks blame the body, chaired by Nick Bontis, for the announcement of budget cuts calling into question optimal preparation for the World Cup to come in the summer of 2023. The Canadians had been forced to interrupt their strike and return to training two days later in the face of threats of financial sanctions from Canada Soccer. The players have not given up on making their voices heard, especially during the SheBelieves Cup. Jerseys returned to training, sacred union with the Americans during their meeting, each player was provided with a purple ribbon to mark the fight against inequalities after meeting in the center of the field before kick-off.
Several executives of the selection spoke about the situation, in particular captain Christine Sinclair, threatening not to go to the rally scheduled for April if the points of tension with the Federation were not resolved by then. Canadian female players enjoy widespread support in world football and especially from their male counterparts. They too had gone on strike last June and had demanded in their grievances the obtaining of equal pay between the male and female selections of Canada. No agreement has yet been reached between Canada Soccer and the various parties. Much-maligned Federation President Nick Bontis, who tendered his resignation on the evening of February 27, attempted to salvage his image with an optimistic statement when packing: “Canada Soccer and our national team programs are in the process of signing a historic collective agreement. » To carry out this mission, Charmaine Crooks has just taken over the vacant position as president, and Kelly Brown will now take the position of interim vice-president. A new wind is blowing across Canada.
South America between development and neglect
On the other side of the Atlantic too, voices are being raised on a continent which is only in its early days of women’s football, but where players are already forced to threaten their federations to obtain the minimum: a coach. The international break has just ended for almost all the selections, except that of Peru, which today has no coach, rally or friendly matches. On Twitter, the internationals, who mainly evolve in the United States, take the floor to ask at least that we are concerned about their fate. “Our federation has no serious investment in women’s football, but they expect us to perform? This is unacceptable “, writes Alexandra Kimball. Waiting to have even a semblance of existence as the women’s team seems to be the least of the concerns of the FPF, those who evolve in the local championship continue their preseason which has lasted for three months. In question ? The federation has still not given a timetable or date for the resumption.
Chile, which until now had a little more lead than its Peruvian neighbor, for its part took a few steps back during this truce, failing to qualify for the next World Cup in a play-off match against Haiti. In 2019, however, the Chileans lived the first World Cup in their history and seemed to be on the rise, with “the best goalkeeper in the world”, Christiane Endler, as captain. “We did everything we could with the resources we were given.testifies the door of OL after the elimination. “The international level is progressing a little more every day, and we remain blocked. And if they don’t change things, don’t put in more resources, the gap will widen further. We’ve been saying it for a while, and no one is listening. » The most capped player in the history of her selection even plans to “make a Wendie Renard” if her rant is not heard.
Spain and “las 15” rendered inaudible
In Spain, the words of Wendie Renard find a very particular echo. On September 22, 15 players from the Roja female made the same decision as the Martiniquaise. Their demands? The same as those formulated by the few French stars: a decent level of requirement, work, a change of coach. And if the peninsula does have a professional championship, unlike France, the selection still seems to be lagging behind, which pushes these players mainly from FC Barcelona and Real Sociedad to lead this strike, for lack of being heard. “There are a lot of long-established things that need to be broken, argued Alexia Putellas, double Ballon d’Or and rebellious despite her rupture of the cruciate ligaments, in her documentary on Prime Video. Those who started had to fight to be allowed to play, today we have to fight to have better conditions, in order to have results and win. »
A context that makes the Barça midfielder say that he is still missing “certain points to be considered 100% professional football players”. Except that for six months, none of the 15 players has been heard by the federation, which persists in denouncing them as capricious refusing to wear the national tunic. The coach Jorge Vilda, who does not particularly like the questioning, therefore calls at each gathering of small news, coming to replace the big absentees. All supported by the president of the federation and despite the recent poor results of the Roja during the preparation matches for the World Cup. The management of the Deacon case should therefore be scrutinized across the Pyrenees and could serve as a line of defense for or against the man who has stood at the head of the Spanish selection since 2015 without ever having won the slightest trophy.
The United States and Ada Hegerberg, the pioneers
Two radically different modes of action and yet united under the same banner: a better consideration of women’s football. The United States won their case by the force of the collective, while Ada Hegerberg alone made the Norwegian federation bend. The Americans’ fight began on March 8, 2019. Just months before the World Cup in France, 28 players filed a class action lawsuit against the United States Soccer Federation for “ widespread gender discrimination ». In the United States perhaps more than elsewhere, the difference in the amounts paid to the selections was unbearable, especially when we note that the Americans have won several major titles including four World Cups (1991, 1999, 2015 and 2019) and four Olympiads (1996, 2004, 2008, 2012), when the best performance of the men’s selection remains a semi-final in the World Cup obtained in 1930, in other words an eternity ago. Men, however, earned much more than their female counterparts until this historic May 18, 2022. The agreement provides for equal pay between men and women footballers in the selection, as well as an equal distribution of the bonuses paid by FIFA when the teams are qualified for the World Cup. A world first.
Regarding Ada Hegerberg, the relationship between the 2018 Golden Ball and the Norwegian selection is far from being a long calm river. Then 22 years old, the striker had decided to slam the door of the Norwegian selection shortly after Euro 2017 in order to denounce the difference in treatment between players and players. The Norwegian Federation had tried to take a step in its direction by doubling the remuneration of the female selection and thus achieving equal pay between the female and male selections. Norway had become the first country to provide such an agreement in the world of football, a proposal which however had not been enough to make the player jump to the ceiling: “ Even if there are changes, you must push these changes every day, never stop demanding equality and development. » The 2019 World Cup then took place without it. Since then, water has flowed under the bridges. Almost five years after her last cape, Ada Hegerberg, 27, revised her position and again made herself available to the national team during the last rally before Euro 2022, without much success, since the Drillos had taken the door from the group stage. The 2023 World Cup meeting will sign as an attempt at redemption on the international scene for the partners of the Lyon striker. A World Cup during which teams will oppose each other who will not have the same jersey, but the same fights.