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«We should have been buzzing about players lifting the Women’s game to the next level»

OPINION: One week ago, I was in Sydney for the FIFA Women’s World Cup Final. This week should have been about celebrating the exceptional performance of the Spanish team and applauding England and Sweden for their well-deserved second and third place. We should have been buzzing about players from Morocco, Nigeria, Jamaica and Colombia all contributing to lifting the Women’s game to the next level.

But no. Instead of reveling in the Women’s football achievements, a familiar story unfolds – the need to rally and defend players and the sport itself. 

A century of misogyny once again overshadows the joy of the game, the national team’s pride, and remarkable performances on the pitch.

My thoughts are with Jenni Hermoso and the Spanish players, who find themselves far from the euphoria of being historic champions. Their impressive and adaptable play during the tournament deserves better.

Beyond the incident itself

The significance of this case extends beyond the incident itself. It highlights the damaging handling that tarnishes the sport’s reputation, revealing systemic issues. Fueling gender-based animosity has no place in European football leadership in 2023.

I commend FIFA’s recent decision to suspend Luis Rubiales, the UEFA Vice President and President of the Spanish Football Federation, from football for the next 90 days. The action signifies seriousness over mere rhetoric.

With that said, having spent time in courtrooms as a lawyer and judge, I affirm the right to a fair legal process for all, including Luis Rubiales.

Trust is paramount

Now Mr. Rubiales faces immense pressure. As a Football president, trust is paramount – from all stakeholders, including fans and partners. It’s a demanding role. I hope he can find it in him to give his sincere apology. Mistakes are human, seeking forgiveness is human.

Post the FIFA World Cup, football’s journey towards inclusion, diversity, and gender equity is far from over. While leaders talk about equal opportunities, insist that “doors are open, just push the door” and “pick the right battles”, the reality for women in football is an ongoing struggle. 

Acknowledging this will drive change. Protecting the dignity of the game requires action.

Players’ responses show promising determination

The past week might be remembered as a dark moment in women’s football, but it could also be a catalyst for positive change. I believe the energy from this movement will inspire young girls and women in football and sports management. 

The Spanish and other international players’ responses show promising determination.

Women leaders in male-dominated fields, including football, choose their path because of passion, not ease. We’re here to turn our vision of change into reality, driven by our love for the game

Lise Klaveness, fotballpresident
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