With all eyes on Women’s World Cup, soccer union wants to increase support for female players

VANCOUVER – The union for soccer players around the world wants to increase support for female players.

FIFPro announced the initiative on Friday, two days before the Women’s World Cup final between the United States and Japan. The key component is the opportunity for female players to become direct members, allowing player representation in countries where there is no other players’ union

Former Swedish national player Caroline Jonsson is head of FIFPro’s Women’s Football Committee. She said the diversity of women’s soccer is “huge” and “we have to find a way to reach out” to all the players.

Jonsson said the impetus of FIFPro’s new initiative to include women was the outcry about the use of artificial turf instead of grass at the Women’s World Cup in Canada. FIFPro Secretary General Theo van Seggelen said FIFPro tried to intervene in the issue, but it was too late.

FIFPro has created an advisory board of current women’s players. The group will attempt to establish a “functioning international calendar” for women’s soccer.

FIFPro also announced an advisory board of current national team players that includes Spain’s Veronica Boquete, Nigeria’s Rita Chikwelu, Mexico’s Monica Gonzalez, Sweden’s Lotta Schelin, Netherland’s Kristen van de Ven and Australia’s Lydia Williams.

“This is a marathon, and not a sprint,” Jonsson said. “But we are taking the important first steps.”

Boquete praised FIFPro’s involvement in the women’s game in light of the situation facing Spain’s national team.

Spain, ranked No. 14 in the world, was knocked out of the group stage of the Women’s World Cup. Upon the team’s arrival back home, the team’s 23 players called for the removal of coach Ignacio Quereda, who has led the national team since 1988.

The Spanish women maintain they were not prepared for this summer’s World Cup, with few advance games and poor analysis of opponents. Boquete said the team was hopeful a decision about the coach would come soon.

“We have been disrespected so many times — and that has to stop,” she said.