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ROGE25: Player panel ahead of UWCL final to analyse varying degrees of professionalisation in women’s football


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  • ROGE25 is designed to increase the level of professionalism in women’s domestic football by elevating standards across different European nations

  • Players and unions from 12 countries to engage in workshops in Bilbao ahead of Champions League final to better understand scale of professionalisation in domestic women’s football

  • Former Netherlands international Claudia van den Heiligenberg talks us through the levelling-up project aiming to make a difference

As Bilbao readies itself to host the UEFA Women’s Champions League final on Saturday, the Basque city will also be the setting of another significant women’s football event – one that is looking to shape the future of women’s footballers in Europe for the better.

Raising Our Game Europe 2025, also known as ROGE25, is an initiative designed to increase the level of professionalism in women’s domestic football by elevating standards across different European nations. The project will host a player, union, and stakeholder panel event on Friday in Bilbao ahead of the Champions League final as part of FIFPRO’s Women’s Football Summit.

Co-funded by the European Union’s Erasmus+ Programme, ROGE25 is designed to develop tools and resources to strengthen player unions. It is carried out in collaboration with the University of Bordeaux.

Raising Our Game Europe 2025

"Though the women’s game has experienced rapid growth in recent years, not all leagues and nations have developed as fast as we would have liked, resulting in varying degrees of professionalisation," said former Netherlands international Claudia van den Heiligenberg, ROGE25’s project coordinator.

"Professional footballers are workers who must be recognised as such, yet that is not always the case in women’s football; in some countries players are spending 25 hours a week at a club without a salary, compensation or even insurance, meaning they’re expected to be professional in a non-professional environment.

"ROGE is intended to level that playing field by introducing minimum standards for better conditions, beginning initially in Europe before expanding globally."

FIFPRO Europe are carrying out the project with seven partner unions (Cyprus, Denmark, France, Italy, Netherlands, Portugal, Slovenia) and five affiliate unions (England, Greece, Scotland, Spain, Sweden).

It has developed FIFPRO's ‘Wheel of Player Conditions’ featuring 11 dimensions that are seen as the foundations of minimum standards that will help support the professionalisation of women’s football.

Wheel Of Conditions 1

"This project will help give us a clear overview on the varying levels of professionalism across Europe – from big countries like England, France, Italy and Spain, to smaller ones like Cyprus and Slovenia, and ones in the middle like the Netherlands," said Van den Heiligenberg.

"The event in Bilbao will see every union involved bring one player from their top league, meaning we will have 12 players from 12 different countries sharing vital knowledge about how we can shape minimum standards across the board. And for the countries who are above this, it’s also an opportunity to build and improve on their existing structures."

Speaking from experience

Van den Heiligenberg’s playing journey from amateur only receiving travel expenses to seasoned international means she is well placed to understand the fragmented levels of professionalisation in women’s football.

A former left-back and left-winger, Van den Heiligenberg’s career began in 2003. As well as playing for renowned clubs such as AZ, Ajax and Bayern Munich, she made just under a century of appearances for the Dutch national team. She currently works for Dutch player union VVCS after retiring from club football in 2019.

Claudia Van Den Heiligenberg
Claudia van den Heiligenberg representing the Netherlands
Claudia Van Den Heiligenberg 6
Claudia van den Heiligenberg in action for Bayern Munich
Claudia Van Den Heiligenberg 7
Claudia van den Heiligenberg in action for Ajax

"When I started my football career, I was happily playing for travel expenses at a professional club because I didn’t know better at the time. Now, it makes me angry when I still see this happening to players today.

"It's still happening in many countries, where players are not being compensated for the hours spent training and not even insured if they encounter a serious injury."

As Barcelona and Olympique Lyonnais vie for Europe’s ultimate prize in women’s club football in Bilbao, the ROGE25 player panel will be an opportunity to put the spotlight on those away from the upper echelons of the game, where levelling the playing field of women’s football conditions in Europe will be paramount.

"We will have a nice mix of players from the big leagues and less developed leagues," said Van den Heiligenberg. "By listening to those different perspectives, we’ll be able to truly see what level of professionalisation we have in Europe – and what we can do to improve it."