Women’s World Cup: a Fifpro investigation reveals significant shortcomings during the 2023 edition

Romain Rouillard / Photo credit: NIGEL KEENE / PROSPORTSIMAGES / DPPI VIA AFP
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8:35 p.m., November 29, 2023

The 2023 Women’s World Cup, organized last summer in Australia and New Zealand, was one of all records in terms of television audiences and crowds in the stadiums. However, women’s football still faces a mountain of difficulties, as revealed by a report from Fifpro, the International Federation of Professional Footballers’ Associations.

To develop these conclusions, the body was able to collect testimony from players from 26 teams, out of the 32 that participated in the competition. This raises significant issues of “preparation, recovery and compensation”. In detail, 66% of respondents believe that their physical form was not optimal when starting the tournament, thus highlighting the difficulties linked to the “calendar” of matches, assures Fifpro.

“Mentally exhausting”

Furthermore, just over half of the players surveyed (53%) consider their rest time insufficient before their first World Cup match, but also between the end of the tournament and the resumption of club competitions. Six out of ten players believe that they have not benefited from adequate recovery time before returning to training. A break of “less than two weeks” for 86% of players, writes the body which recommends “an off-season break of four weeks, with a retraining period of six weeks”.

A configuration impossible to implement this year, because Fifa had chosen to postpone the organization of the World Cup by a few weeks, the final of which took place on August 20. A date on which the players are, traditionally, in full summer preparation with their clubs. Going from one to the other was “mentally exhausting”, according to a player, cited by Fifpro.

The investigation also highlights the remuneration granted to players which appears insufficient. Among the players who played in the World Cup, 33% earn less than $30,000 per year and one in five is forced to supplement their income with a job outside of football.

Mental health deficiencies

Finally, Fifpro warns about the transport and support conditions faced by the main stakeholders. Thus, only 80% of them made their return trip in business class. An unthinkable figure in the world of men’s football. Other telling figures: “10% of players did not undergo a medical examination before the competition and, a worrying statistic, 22% did not have an electrocardiogram (ECG), even though these two examinations are provided for in the regulations of Fifa for competitions”, affirms Fifpro. And in terms of mental health, gaps persist since 60% of players have not benefited from support in this area.

“Players need an environment that supports their overall well-being, from mental health to competitive conditions, so that they have the opportunity to perform at their best in matches,” argues Dr. Alex Culvin, head of strategy and research for women’s football at Fifpro.

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