Female futsal players worldwide have united to condemn FIFA’S “discriminatory treatment” in refusing to make good on a promise to launch a futsal Women’s World Cup. This comes on the eve of the men’s football World Cup in Qatar and weeks after the men’s national futsal teams began qualification for their 10th World Cup.
In September last year, the International Women’s Futsal Players Association (AJFSF), sent a letter to FIFA’S President, Gianni Infantino, calling for an end to the “marginalisation” of women in the sport.
FIFA officials assured the AJFSF that a World Cup was “on the table”. FIFA had committed to launching a “women’s futsal competition” as part of its first strategy for women’s football in 2018. In a campaign video launched by the AJFSF, the players condemn FIFA’S “public neglect towards women futsal players “and demand a “real commitment once and for all. We are together for the first time in history to publicly denounce the discriminatory treatment,” they said. Ten of the world’s best female players are seen in the footage.
“Year after year they promise us a World Cup,” says Italy’s captain, Ersilia D’Incecco. “Equality can’t be a promise,” adds Argentina’s Julia Paz Dupuy. They are joined by Amandinha, the Brazilian seven-times winner of best player in the world award – organised by the independent futsal planet website, not FIFA.
The other leading players include Spain’s double UEFA Euros winning captain, Anita Luján, Iran’s goalkeeper Zahra Lotfabadi, Portugal’s Janice da Silva, Uruguay’s Fátima Villar, Nancy Loth from the Netherlands, Chikage Kichibayashi from Japan, and Ukraine’s Vika Kyslova. “We’re not trying to compete with football. We just want our own space to develop. It’s not right. It’s not fair. What are we waiting for?”
The indoor five-a-side sport, born in South America in the 1930s, is recognised as essential to the development of skill and game intelligence at youth level in Spain and other nations such as Brazil, Portugal, Russia and Iran, where it is the dominant game in schools and a professional sport.
A FIFA spokesperson declined to comment on the accusation of “double discrimination” but confirmed that a World Cup was under consideration. “FIFA is still undergoing its consultation with confederations and stakeholders on the concept of a women’s futsal World Cup within an overarching strategic approach to women’s football,” the spokesperson said.
“It’s a big, important step … there is no definitive timeline for a decision, but rather, a commitment to an elaborate consultation process.”