FIFA launched its first-ever global strategy for women's soccer on Tuesday. It outlined three objectives for the game and five strategies to reach those goals. Hidden in each is the real reason FIFA is putting an emphasis on women's soccer.
We applaud any effort on the part of FIFA to grow the women’s game. It’s much needed from an organization that for years was run by a man whose only idea for increasing interest in women's soccer was to have the participants wear shorter, tighter pants.
Fortunately, Sepp Blatter is long gone from the sport. FIFA’s announcement on Tuesday was heralded by Fatma Samoura, the first-ever female Secretary General for soccer’s governing body.
“I am proud to launch our first-ever global strategy for women’s football,” Samoura said. “The women’s game is a top priority for FIFA and via our new strategy we will work hand-in-hand with our 211 member associations around the world to increase grassroots participation, enhance the commercial value of the women’s game and strengthen the structures surrounding women’s football to ensure that everything we do is sustainable and has strong results.
“Most importantly it will make football more accessible to girls and women and encourage female empowerment, a subject of great importance, now more than ever before.”
FIFA's new Women's Football Strategy is built on five pillars to grow the game.
— FIFA Women's World Cup (@FIFAWWC) October 9, 2018
The goals set and strategies put forth are all admirable — but hidden within is the real reason FIFA is finally showing an interest in the women’s game.
See if you can spot it. Here are the three objectives FIFA set forth:
- Grow participation
- Enhance the commercial value
- Build the foundations
Did you get it? If not, maybe take a look at FIFA’s “game plan and tactics” for achieving these goals:
- Develop and grow
- Communicate and commercialize
- Govern and lead
- Educate and empower
Yeah, we think you’ve figured out the pattern here — this is FIFA after all.
The middle bullet point in each list is FIFA’s “hidden” agenda: monetize the other half of the population like it’s monetized the male population.
Is this a bit cynical? Probably. But even with Blatter gone, FIFA hasn’t given us any reason to not be cynical about anything it does.
We’re not trying to say commercializing women's soccer is a bad idea — indeed, it’s a major key to long-term growth and sustainability. But for FIFA to make it so obvious it wants to make money off women's soccer is simultaneously blatant and unsurprising.
All that said, the fact FIFA is putting together a plan at all is a giant step in the right direction.
A few major points stick out that show FIFA might actually be serious about the women’s game:
- By 2026, 100 percent of FIFA member associations will have at least one woman on its executive committee.
- By 2022, at least one third of FIFA committee members will be women.
- At least one member of every member association’s executive committee will be dedicated to representing the interests of women's soccer.
These are concrete numbers that will go a long way toward giving women an equal say in the world’s game.
Perhaps the best part of the plan is the final strategy: educate and empower. As Samoura alluded to, FIFA can use soccer to positively impact the lives of women around the world. Education is a huge part of this, both on and off the pitch.
The entire 22-page document on the strategy can be found here and gives insight into where FIFA wants to take women's soccer.
Most enlightening is the fact FIFA actually realizes the need for improvement around the world (like in Trinidad and Tobago). We’re glad FIFA finally figured it out. It’s only 2018.