- The deal with the country’s football association grants Slovenian women’s national team players working conditions and pay equal to those of the men’s national team
- It concluded an almost four-year push by the players and their union to get the deal arranged
- “We are confident that levelling the playing field for the national team will positively benefit the development of this team and the ones that follow,” said co-captain Lara Prasnikar
The players of the Slovenian women’s national team agreed to a deal the Football Association of Slovenia (NZS) which grants them working conditions and pay equal to those of the men’s national team.
Last Friday, Slovenian player union SPINS announced the agreement during a press conference. It concluded an almost four-year push by the players and their union to get the deal arranged.
In July this year, the women’s struggle culminated in a letter they wrote to NZS leadership in which they addressed the significant differences in treatment of the men’s and women’s national teams that had a negative effect on their performance.
The women had to deal with poor conditions and facilities for both training and matches, inappropriate travel conditions, bad preparation, unregulated catering and, above all, the unprofessional behaviour of the national team coach and his staff, who they accused of bullying, sexism, and racism among other things.
Most issues have been addressed by the NZS, which replaced the technical staff and finalised the agreement with the women’s national team that meets the players’ needs.
"We are confident that levelling the playing field for the national team will positively benefit the development of this team and the ones that will follow. Equal treatment of women and men should be a given in today's society," said Lara Prasnikar, co-captain of the national team.
Co-captain Mateja Zver added: "By signing the new agreement, we have set an example for the countries that will follow us. We can all be proud of that."
SPINS President Dejan Stefanovic, who is also a FIFPRO global board member, said: "The letter that the players sent illustrated the unanimity between all of our country’s women footballers. Even before this letter was sent, all women players – national team players and all others – had agreed that in case of a strike action, none of them would accept a call-up to appear for the national team. This was part of a strategy suggested by our colleagues of the Israeli union, especially their chair Karen Sendel."
According to Stefanovic, another crucial step was to involve the Advocate of Principle of Equality. "Things started moving very quickly after the Advocate of Principle of Equality began its investigation into discriminatory treatment of the women’s national team. I am sure that the football association is very worried about a possible verdict and that will have helped with getting this deal done."
Stefanovic advises other player unions looking for equality for their women’s players to take a similar approach. He said: "They should make use of the possibilities in their country by identifying organisations or institutions that can help them, whether that is an Advocate of Principle of Equality as in our case, or for example an Ombudsman for Equality as the Finnish player union (JPY) did a couple of years ago.
"Having achieved this important milestone, the first FIFPRO member in Central and Eastern Europe to do so, we are also aware that there is still is a long way to go before women’s players in Slovenia enjoy the same level playing field as the men’s players. But we will continue working closely with the players to arrange that their treatment is improved and follows global trends."