PFA Advisor Player Relations and FIFPro Shannon Beck included in the newly-appointed FIFPro Women’s Football Committee.

Established to provide female professionals with a platform to address their growing needs on a global level the initiative was set in motion during a two-day meeting held at the home of FIFPro, the World Footballers’ Association, in the Netherlands.

The seven-person committee includes PFA Advisor Player Relations and FIFPro Shannon Beck, Caroline Jönsson (Sweden), IlariaPasqui (Italy), José Carlos (Portugal), AnaileZiccarelli (Brazil), Gustavo Quijano (Colombia), and Jacqueline Shipanga (Namibia).

All hail from member associations of FIFPro and bring a wealth of experience in the representation of players’ rights in their respective countries.

Legal matters, gender equality, communications and specific issues relating to the health and safety of the players were among the topics discussed. The FIFPro Women’s Football Committee is focused on creating a strategic plan, which will be designed to handle the modern requirements of female professionals.

Beck said the formation of the FIFPro Women’s Football Committee was an important first step in ensuring players had a greater collective say in all areas affecting the women’s game.

“There are many challenges that face the women’s game and these can not be overcome without the input of the players,” said Beck.

“In Australia we have seen significant progress in women’s football through Collective Bargaining, however the PFA is seeking further advancement in the pursuit of full-time professionalism. The expertise contained in the FIFPro Women’s Committee will better equip the PFA to pursue this.”

Former Swedish international Caroline Jönsson will chair the committee. A three-time Olympian who recalls playing in the 2003 World Cup final as one of her proudest moments, she insists women need to have a voice and that FIFPro will play a critical role in harnessing the views of female professionals worldwide.

“We have a good foundation from our committee members illustrating a variety of challenges that women face in different parts the world. Minimum salaries, what defines a professional, health and safety standards are just some of the questions we find in need of attention.”

“Players need to be asked and have a much greater collective say in all areas affecting the women’s game, such as the decision to use artificial turf at next year’s World Cup in Canada. The players should always be involved and consulted.”
Taking inspiration from the development of the women’s game worldwide and in her native Sweden, Jönsson believes her own experience over the past 15 years stands her in good stead.

“We’ve come a long way in Sweden over the last 15 years. I started out paying to play and in the end I actually got paid to play. One of the really important steps in Sweden was to create a collective agreement, for players to be seen as employees and that the clubs were seen as employers. That was a major milestone.”

“Participation rates are growing, placing a greater demand on development at grassroots level and the need for a professional pathway. We also see an increase in the number of spectators all over the world watching the women’s game. All these issues are altering the landscape for female players.”

As a qualified psychologist, Jönsson successfully combined gaining an education, which ran parallel with her playing career. Done partly out of necessity given that female professionals are not in a position to rely solely on a football income, she says this is one area where many male professionals can learn from the women.

“We may have been forced to work or go to school, but there are significant benefits to that and I’m not just talking about careers ending. A dual career while you’re an active player helps your motivation, to focus and it gives balance to your life.”

“It teaches you that football isn’t the only thing that’s important which actually helps you play better.”