UEFA Women’s Football Board Meeting Overshadowed By Claims Of Lack Of Diversity
England’s midfielder Leah Williamson (L) receives the trophy from UEFA president Aleksander Ceferin … [+] (R) and Britain’s Prince William, Duke of Cambridge (C) after England’s win in the UEFA Women’s Euro 2022 final football match between England and Germany at the Wembley stadium, in London, on July 31, 2022. – England won a major women’s tournament for the first time as Chloe Kelly’s extra-time goal secured a 2-1 victory over Germany at a sold out Wembley on Sunday. – No use as moving pictures or quasi-video streaming. Photos must therefore be posted with an interval of at least 20 seconds. (Photo by FRANCK FIFE / AFP) / No use as moving pictures or quasi-video streaming. Photos must therefore be posted with an interval of at least 20 seconds. (Photo by FRANCK FIFE/AFP via Getty Images)
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Today, a group of leading figures in European soccer convened to discuss the future of the women’s game but faced criticism for failing to adequately represent the continent it speaks for.
The inaugural meeting of the ‘UEFA Women’s Football Board’ set our to discuss “fundamental women’s football-related topics, such as the Laws of the Game, refereeing, the match calendar and player welfare, as well as the UEFA Women’s Football Strategy.”
The board is comprised of ten current players, five former players and three current coaches within the women’s game – Verónica Boquete, Marissa Callaghan, Karen Carney, Jovana Damnjanović, Jonas Eidevall, Magdalena Eriksson, Laura Georges, Gemma Grainger, Ada Hegerberg, Pernille Harder, Josephine Henning, Eugénie Le Sommer, Carolina Morace, Francisco Neto, Alexia Putellas, Lotta Schelin, Viktoria Schnaderbeck, Tessa Wullaert and Leah Williamson.
Of 19 members of the so-called, “distinguished group of current and former football stars and elite coaches” chosen to represent the interests of women’s football, two were male, only one was black – former French international Georges – and only one from Eastern Europe – Serbian Damnjanović, currently playing for FC Bayern in Germany.
Thirteen countries from the 55 UEFA member nations are represented. There are three participants from England and Sweden, two from France and Spain. None of the board are currently playing within Eastern Europe.
Upon the announcment of the board last week, UEFA President Aleksander Čeferin said, “UEFA is delighted to welcome some of the most distinguished players and coaches in football, and many of those who paved the way for the all the successes of women’s football that we are seeing today across the continent. The expertise and insights of this board will play a pivotal role in ensuring continued growth and success built on inclusivity, equality and excellence, not only in Europe but around the world.”
However, yesterday on social media former England international pointed out the lack of non-white faces on the UEFA board which was established by the UEFA Executive Committee “to give an institutional yet independent voice of experience and expertise on fundamental women’s football-related topics.”
Last week, three of the thirty players nominated to the shortlist for the women’s Ballon D’Or were black Europeans – Wendie Renard, six times a captain of the UEFA Women’s Champions League winners, Kadidiatou Diani, the leading European goalscorer at the FIFA Women’s World Cup and Salma Paralluelo, the winner of the Best Young Player at the tournament.
Since the suspension of Russia from European competition matches last year, there has been a similar lack of representation from Eastern Europe at the top level of the women’s game. No Eastern European nation played at the UEFA Women’s Euro – Russia had qualified but were replaced by Portugal – or FIFA Women’s World Cup. No Eastern European club side has made the knockout stages of the UEFA Women’s Champions League since it was reformatted in 2021.
UEFA claims that “members of the UEFA Football Board were selected based on their outstanding club or national team achievements, strong international reputation and extensive experience.”
The meeting of the women’s board follows on from the first meeting of the UEFA men’s football board in April. The 24 men chosen included four black former players and two from Eastern Europe.
There remains no fixed agenda for the UEFA Women’s Football Board but according to UEFA, “these meetings will be an annual fixture in the UEFA calendar, but the members will also meet when needed and necessary.”
The managing Director of UEFA Women’s Footbal, Nadine Kessler added that “I am delighted and thankful that such a powerful and respected group of players and coaches will come together to help us assess the game of today and shape the one of tomorrow. Much more needs to be done, and their voices need to be heard and listened to.”
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