Women's soccer will be hit harder by COVID-19 than the men's - FIFPRO

RESENDING WITH COMPLETE SCRIPT

VIDEO SHOWS: INTERVIEWS WITH FIFPRO GENERAL SECRETARY, JONAS-BAER HOFFMAN AND ARSENAL WOMEN'S CAPTAIN, KIM LITTLE, FILE FOOTAGE OF UNITED STATES CELEBRATING AFTER WINNING THE 2019 WOMEN'S WORLD CUP, FILE FOOTAGE OF THE NETHERLANDS CELEBRATING AFTER WINNING THE 2017 WOMEN'S EUROPEAN CHAMPIONSHIP, FILE FOOTAGE OF VARIOUS WOMEN'S NATIONAL TEAMS TRAINING

SHOWS:

HEIDELBERG, GERMANY (APRIL 17, 2020) (REUTERS - ACCESS ALL)

1. (SOUNDBITE) (English) FIFPRO GENERAL SECRETARY, JONAS BAER-HOFFMANN, SAYING:

"Very much I think it is fair to say that it (women's soccer) is going to hit much harder yes. The men's game has more financial capital but also just more operational attention and political attention in this time of crisis and that not being applied puts a huge risk at the women's game for being hit harder and therefore to be thrown back many years of its development if we don't pay attention to that now."

2. WHITE FLASH

3. (SOUNDBITE) (English) FIFPRO GENERAL SECRETARY, JONAS BAER-HOFFMANN, SAYING:

"It is a massive hit to the game absolutely and we must also understand it's not just the big tournaments. Many of the female players are very much dependant in terms of their income for representing their country. They usually have a dual income stream between their club and their national team football. Now when there are no games played many of those players will be struggling to receive that compensation from the federations which may just force them out of their professional careers. But when it comes to the tournaments themselves they are the biggest spotlight by far and I think that the combination of the values of the women's game which run a little bit outside of the purely commercial scope combine with the patriotism of, of course a World Cup and everything that comes with it - that has an enormous draw in society which is fantastic so we need those tournaments obviously to be played. It was an understandable decision with the Olympics moving that then the (women's) Euros would have to move as well simply also from a calendar perspective having two of those major events in the same year plus the men's Euro would have been incredibly challenging of course but we need those events to keep driving the public attention and the public buy-in to what this game offers on the women's side which is maybe different and in some ways more interesting or better than on the men's side to some of the people who enjoy the game."

4. WHITE FLASH

5. (SOUNDBITE) (English) FIFPRO GENERAL SECRETARY, JONAS BAER-HOFFMANN, SAYING:

"When we published this yesterday, it was very much a call for cooperation. It was not meant to criticise where we are. It's a very difficult situation but we need the stakeholders to all come together now because everybody can contribute. The women's game needs the club and the national team football. We need a broad base in many, many countries. We need coordination because of course in many countries the resources in the women's game are not very developed so there's guidance that the global sectors, the confederations can give. So, we want everybody to chip in and to build a plan on how we build the game."

6. WHITE FLASH

7. (SOUNDBITE) (English) FIFPRO GENERAL SECRETARY, JONAS BAER-HOFFMANN, SAYING:

"Yes, the risks (there) are a few. I mean the one is like I mentioned before the much less developed financial structures, there's less income streams that can be sustained through this crisis. Number two is the attention; if we're not talking about it, if we're not paying attention to it then of course we can't develop strategies to save it. And number three I think it's the historic context that it's still a game that is very much on the rise and it's sort of growing out of the margins of the professional game of the men's football and we need to sustain that appreciation for the growth in itself. What we need to do; stakeholders need to come together, we need to united strategy, how we stabilise the game, how we sustain the funding cuts that are going to come in this crisis but also how we build actually a strategy that makes the game stronger, how we pay more attention for example to the playing conditions of players. How we build maybe more interesting competition structures. How we rebalance the character so that international football and club football can co-exist in a better balance than before and of course how we appeal even more to 50% of society but also many, many potential corporate sponsors who obviously are going through tough times themselves but who might be looking to the women's game as a different type of product to invest in and to be engaged with."

8. WHITE FLASH

9. (SOUNDBITE) (English) FIFPRO GENERAL SECRETARY, JONAS BAER-HOFFMANN, SAYING:

"Well, you know the financial structures look very different. We've seen for example yesterday there was a decision in Austria we understand that women's football league has been stopped because of the cost that it would have in terms of the testing programmes to put the teams back on the pitch. It's understandable that the financing isn't there but of course now the men's game might continue, the women's game won't. That's a damage in itself and then it's not to criticise the individual decision but it's an example of what we're seeing. We just believe that it's very important that we deal with this consistently and that there's a strategy put to it. Whether clubs will disappear short-term or long-term depends very much on relatively small amounts of money as I said before. The budgets of these clubs are not huge but their income is right now zero so we need to help them just sustain this crisis but it also comes to, you know we've seen over the last few years great new agreements actually being made like in Spain and some of the Scandinavian countries about the playing conditions. Can we now protect those or do we fall back into the era where it was before when it really wasn't sustainable to be a footballer; where it really was more an amateur game and that of course does not allow the game to thrive because the players can't put the time in, they can't put the commitment in to really be the best that they can be. And then overall of course the development of the game in society is slowing down. So again it's many factors but we do have a concern that simply the growth won't be sustained and that we will lose some of the clubs, especially those who are not affiliated to bigger men's teams and that can maybe carry the financial burden easier."

NEWARK, NEW JERSEY, UNITED STATES (FILE - JULY 8, 2019) (REUTERS - ACCESS ALL)

10. U.S. TEAM MEMBERS - MIDFIELDER, JULIE ERTZ (HOLDING TROPHY), FORWARD, ALEX MORGAN, MIDFIELDER, MEGAN RAPINOE, WALKING DOWNSTAIRS AND SHAKING HANDS WITH NEW JERSEY GOVERNOR, PHIL MURPHY

11. RAPINOE POSING FOR PHOTOGRAPHS WITH TROPHY

ST ALBANS, ENGLAND, UNITED KINGDOM (APRIL 16, 2020) (REUTERS - ACCESS ALL)

12. (SOUNDBITE) (English) FIFPRO GLOBAL PLAYER COUNCIL MEMBER AND ARSENAL WOMEN'S CAPTAIN, KIM LITTLE, SAYING:

"We're in this uncertain time right now which none of us could have predicted and I think because of the stage of where the female game is at I think it puts a lot of players in a vulnerable position in terms of what they do for a living because the circumstances that a lot of players work in are very unstable in the sense of contracts aren't particularly long, some players have to work another job because financially they can't just live off their footballing wage."

13. WHITE FLASH

14. (SOUNDBITE) (English) FIFPRO GLOBAL PLAYER COUNCIL MEMBER AND ARSENAL WOMEN'S CAPTAIN, KIM LITTLE, SAYING:

"You know our game is still progressing, it's still moving forward and that is great that it's progressing but it also means when there's times that are difficult and situations like right now that means we are slightly unstable and a lot of players are in very vulnerable positions."

15. WHITE FLASH

16. (SOUNDBITE) (English) FIFPRO GLOBAL PLAYER COUNCIL MEMBER AND ARSENAL WOMEN'S CAPTAIN, KIM LITTLE, SAYING:

"Yes I think, you know, like you said there's been a lot of time and effort and progress that has been made in the game over the past decade, even longer, and the World Cup last year was obviously the biggest and most current example of how much it's grown and I think by the delay of the Euros next year and other tournaments the visibility of the game is not there and I think to keep it progressing at the same rate there needs to be the right decisions made to not allow that to affect the progress of our game."

NEW YORK, NEW YORK, UNITED STATES (FILE - JULY 10, 2019) (NEW YORK CITY MAYOR'S OFFICE - ACCESS ALL)

17. RAPINOE BEING INTRODUCED TO THE CROWD AS PART OF UNITED STATES 2019 WOMEN'S WORLD CUP CELEBRATIONS

18. FULL TEAM DANCING AFTER THEY ARE ALL INTRODUCED TO THE CROWD

UTRECHT, NETHERLANDS (FILE - AUGUST 7, 2017) (REUTERS - ACCESS ALL)

19. NETHERLANDS WOMEN'S TEAM ARRIVING ON A BOAT AND GREETED BY FANS AS THEY CELEBRATE WINNING THE 2017 WOMEN'S EUROPEAN CHAMPIONSHIP

20. WOMAN IN THE CROWD WITH BANNER, READING (Dutch): "CHAMPIONS"

21. VARIOUS OF DUTCH WOMEN FOOTBALL TEAM ON THE BOAT

IMONEST, FRANCE (FILE - JULY 1, 2019) (REUTERS - ACCESS ALL)

22. VARIOUS OF ENGLAND WOMEN'S PLAYERS TRAINING

OULLINS, FRANCE (FILE - JULY 2, 2019) (REUTERS - ACCESS ALL)

23. VARIOUS OF NETHERLANDS WOMEN'S TEAM TRAINING

DARDILLY, FRANCE (FILE - JULY 2, 2019) (REUTERS - ACCESS ALL)

24. VARIOUS OF SWEDEN WOMEN'S TEAM TRAINING

STORY: The recent progress of women's soccer is at risk of being undone as the sport is brought to a standstill by the novel coronavirus, the players union FIFPRO told Reuters television in on Friday (April 17).

FIFPRO said in a report published Thursday that the women's game could face an "existential threat" and many players could lose their livelihoods in the aftermath of the pandemic.

"I think it is fair to say that it (women's soccer) is going to hit much harder (than the men's)," said FIFPRO general secretary Jonas Baer-Hoffmann. "It is a massive hit to the game absolutely and we must also understand it's not just the big tournaments."

"(It risks being) thrown back many years of its development if we don't pay attention to that now."

Baer-Hoffmann said that, while club football was the main source of income in the men's game, many female players were "very much dependant in terms of their income for representing their country."

"They usually have a dual income stream between their club and their national team football," he said. "Now, when there are no games played, many of those players will be struggling to receive that compensation from the federations which may just force them out of their professional careers."

The women's game also depended heavily on international tournaments for visibility, meaning that the postponement of the Olympic Games, from 2020 to 2021, was a significant blow.

"We need those events to keep driving the public attention," said," he said.

Arsenal captain Kim Little added that many players had been left in a "vulnerable position."

"The circumstances that a lot of players work in are very unstable in the sense of contracts aren't particularly long, some players have to work another job because financially they can't just live off their footballing wage," she said.

(Production: Tim Hart)

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