International Forum

International Campaign on Women’s Football and Empowerment FIFA World Cup in Brazil 2014

In June and July 2014, the world’s eyes are set on Brazil. The No. 1 football country welcomes hundreds of thousands of international guests and journalists to the men’s World Cup. The teams that have qualified all have one thing in common: women’s football plays a subordinate role in their countries and is subject to prejudice. DISCOVER FOOTBALL initiates an international campaign that brings football activists and journalists that fight for women’s rights and women’s football in their home countries to Brazil in order to make their cause available to a global audience. Become part of our campaign and meet other inspiring football activists and journalists.

From July 3rd to July 7th 2014 we will gather in Rio de Janeiro to exchange experiences and expertise, network and present our cause to the people in Brazil and the spectators from all around the world.

Sport journalists and football activists from Argentina, Brazil, Cameroon, Germany, Iran, Mexico, Nigeria and Uruguay participated in the international forum.

Get to know the campaigners

6th of July: Action Day

By our campaigner from Mexico: Olga Trujillo

Mouth covered. As a protest due to low participation of women in management positions football in general, and also the little attention and financial support that still stigmatizes women in most of the countries, activists, journalists and footballers whom participated on the Discover Football campaign, took action in the streets of Praca Da Cinelandia, Rio de Janeiro, in order to raise awareness of the barriers faced by female players in such country and abroad.

Several women and girls spectators were invited to play and agreed to do it even without shoes; the symbolic intention of drawing more women to the pitch, was successful. The group of 20 participants from Discover Football campaign, also organized two teams on Copacabana beach.

Two teams whose ranks had former players of the now defunct Brazilian team Santos – better known as’ Pelé’s team – such as Caitlin Fisher (was born in Boston) and ‘Bia’ Baz from Sao Paulo and also the former Colombia National Team, Juliana Lozano.

Their spectacular game and the announcement of several participants glued on t-shirts with the words “Também” (well) and “Tão Bem” (very good), caught the attention of international media like the BBC and Sports Claro Sport among others, who realized interviews in the eyes of curious local people who also came to ask about the act.

Visibility, equity, motivation, courage, empowerment, were just some of the words written on pieces of cardboards by the participants –in portuguese and english–. No rules stopped the game. Only those which day by day all this women face in their countries and try to brake. Go, go, go.

Original article

6th of July: Visit of Moya Dodd

By Leocadia Bongben, our campaigner from Cameroon

Moya Dodd, Fifa Executive member (co-opted) Australian Football Federation member, Asian Football Confederation Vice President says it is time for the other half of the population, women, to enjoy the wonderful game, soccer. And to catch up, federations, NGO’s and Governments have to play a big role to make this happen. As special guest during the Discover Football Campaign in Rio de Janeiro from July 3-7 she stresses that federations have to plan and invest in women football. In an interview with Leocadia Bongben the Fifa Legal Committee member who has contributed a lot through a task force on the amelioration of women football hopes Fifa principles would give federations a road map to develop women football especially through planning.

Read the excerpts:

This is a Discover Football Campaign to encourage more women to play football, how did you come here today? 
I came here because I had met the organisers at various football events and conferences around the world. I have a keen interest in showing the promotion of women’s football and I know much of it is through member federations, confederations and through Fifa itself but, also non-governmental organisations playing that role and helping that to occur and to improve the position of women in society generally.

But we all Know women’s football in Brazil and Africa has not reached the level of men’s football, what explains this situation?

In many big football countries like England, Brazil and Germany women football was banned at different times and women had a later start in football than the men. Men’s football is already big and established and it is a great game, it is too good a game not to share with everybody in the world, but it is time for the other half of the population to enjoy this wonderful game as well. To catch up many people have a role to play, NGOs, member federations and governments have a big role to play to make this happen.

Talking about the big role, how can the ten principles of female football Fifa adopted in June 2014 help in the catching up?
My hope is that this will set a road-map for member federations to begin on a path to developing women football, to have a plan for the game, include former players in running the game, develop expertise in women football, to include women in their executive committee and in decision making roles and see the game as a real source of growth for football generally and also to make football better and richer by including women in it.

When we look at the principles, they are too good, too big but if these are not implement at the local level what will happen?
There are always challenges of implementation but the best thing is to have the principles, a road-map and a plan. The principles ask member federations to have a plan for women football, to provide it to Fifa and have it approved by the executive committee and monitored overtime. I am very hopeful that this will encourage member federations to do exactly that, to start to plan for the game and to give it the resources needed to thrive.

Though you are not form the African Zone, what is your perception of women football in Africa?
I think there is a great deal of potential in women football in Africa. The level of participation and formal structures are not there yet, but formal structures of competition can be created. In the U-17 World Cup qualifiers, there were three participating teams from Africa and six countries participated in the qualification. Obviously there is a great potential for participation for the three position and I am hopeful that the principles of women football would help federations plan out how they are going to do that and give those who are already in the game the means to step out and be part of something bigger which is the growth of women’s football in Africa.

What advice for the growth of women’s football; the way forward?

The first principle is the most important, have a plan. Without a plan it is like being stuck to the wall and it is worth noting that coordinated action is much more powerful, like have a plan and coordinate it. That is how Germany and Japan got to be the leaders in women’s football because they had a plan and worked towards it. Don’t be concerned about results; think about development, the right plan for the country and how to implement it.

original article

Gender and leisure time

By our campaigner from Argentina: Juliana Lozano

Sport is a socio-cultural fact in which the social constructions of masculinity and feminity play a decisive role. On the other hand, the practice of sports is also linked to a number of assumptions regarding what is considered as "work" and "recreation" that women and men live in a different way. Dealing with sick and elders, raise children and perform other household chores are activities that generally are not considered socially and economically as "labour"and that are very often only responsability of women."Production" activities  carried outside home and recognized as "work" -especially if they are carried out by men- however, involve the right to have free time to dedicate lo leisure activities.The objective of the workshop is to reflect on what is socially  considered as "work" and what`s not and how this affects on the excercise of recreation, leisure time and the practice of sports for men and women.

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Women's Football in Cameroon

By our campaigner from Cameroon: Ufei Nseke

Challenges for the development of women's football in Cameroon

Inadequate Training

Most of the teams do not have adequate training.  It is either from a lack of play space, most available pieces of empty space having been already occupied by boys, or clubs not being able to pay training allowances, so training is reduced to twice a week.  This is insufficient if we must produce high-level female competitors.

The image of the Game

Women, who compete in football that has been historically associated with men, have had to face many obstacles. One that they consistently encounter, and appears to remain, is the problem of football being an indicator of sexuality. It seems that there exists a perceived conflict between the values of football and what it is to be feminine. Issues directly relating to the women’s own personal perceptions and to their gendered identities is a strong theme that persists.

Some women football players in my country openly talk and think about themselves as distant from the other girls around them, and this is particularly evident in the way they dress and act. Some parents have vehemently refused their daughters from playing football because they are afraid they will become gay.

Inadequate Preparation for Tournaments

We all know that sustained preparation is the key to success at any competition. 

No Youth Championship

Before 16, young girls play unorganised football. Many talents fall along the wayside because by the time they are old enough to play in clubs, they must have lost interest in the game and moved on to other things. The boys, on the other hand have a well-organised youth championship from 12-20, in different categories.

Few Qualified Female Coaches at the League Level

Although there is regulation in place stipulating who can be a first or second division coach, this regulation is openly flaunted when it comes to women football.

Gender inequality in management Positions

Men continue to hold managerial positions in the football arena because there is only ONE woman in Cameroon who has been received formal training in sports management.

Lack of Infrastructure

While first division men’s league matches are played on the grass, especially in Yaoundé, the Girls’ matches have been regulated to sandy and muddy pitches. Space should be created for girls to play on.

Lack of Funding

It is said that finance is at the centre of any battle.  Funding for women's football is also an issue. The main problem being faced by clubs and female football organisations, is finances.  Clubs receive subventions, but it is not enough to run the teams and pay reasonable allowances and salaries.  The result is the immense exodus which we are witnessing today of female players. For example, there are seven (7) Cameroonians playing with the Equatorial national team. Many girls leave their homes to seek greater football opportunities in places some of which you have to look up the name in a dictionary or computer, real remote places in the world like Kadjistan etc,

Gender inequality on the pitch

Although crowds are increasing, women's football still lags behind its male counterparts in terms of funding, media interest and crowd turnout. The record high salaries of male players have no equivalent in the women's game, so interest is placed on potential star players in the male league.  

Women's Football and the Media

I work for the Cameroon Radio and Television Corporation. CRTV is a public broadcasting service that employs a few thousands of people and since it is a government-owned media house competence may not always be a priority. 

The ratio of women who hold managerial positions at CRTV is scandalous, and the choice of these few is usually debatable.

British sports journalist, Georgina Turner, investigating the Guardian's football archives back to 1998, found that only 303 articles have been written about women's football. In contrast, the Manchester United manager, Sir Alex Ferguson has 184 articles all of his own and 388 articles were written about one team, Coventry City. Turner links the marginalisation of women's football in the media with the interest of journalists, predominantly male, and smaller budgets allocated to covering women's sports in general.

The largest sporting audience ever for a women’s event was the 90,000 spectators who watched the 1999 Women’s World Cup final between the USA and China; in contrast, in contrast the 2006 FIFA Men's World Cup final was watched by 15.1 billion individuals (a ninth of the entire population of the planet).

What should we do?

As a member of the Cameroonian Specialised Commission on Female Football, I came up with a project that would get girls to play football all over the country in celebration of the International Women’s Day.  For the past three years now, girls compete, starting from the regions, with the finals being played on March 8th in the capital in front of the Minister for Women’s Empowerment.

Hold Men and Women event simultaneously

The four major tennis tournaments (Wimbledon, the Australian, French, and US Opens) are held each year with men and women competing simultaneously. Men may be better tennis players than women, but the disparity in viewing figures between the two sexes is far smaller than the disparity in viewing figures in other sports, football included.

League Matches: Currently, some youth male teams are invited to play the opening match when there is a derby.  Instead of a male team, female division 1 teams could be programmed to play the opening match. If women’s matches were played in the same venue on the same day immediately before male matches it would allow fans to attend games they otherwise would not have a chance to see. Furthermore, those games that are televised, like the Elite 1 games would help raise the profile of women footfall.