The Player Voice Award is for players who use their platform to raise their voice and/or the voices of others to highlight an issue and influence change within the football industry.
The Cyprus Women’s National Team of November 2019 squad includes Christiana Solomou, Constantina Pafiti, Fotini Andronikou, Elena Ttaka, Filippa Savva, Victoria Zamba, Maria Ioannou, Corina Paola Adamou, Georgia Xenofontos, Maria Xenofontos, Andria Michael, Eleni Yiannou, Loukritia Chrysostomou, Maria Matheou, Chara Charalambous, Ivana Taneva, Elina Panayiotou, Marinella Panayiotou, Sarah Papadopoulou, Rafaella Antoniou, Stavriana Antoniou, Elena Aristodemou and Chara Neofytou, along with Andri Violari and Xenia Georgiou, who were both injured, but were also part of the team).
What they did:
Before an international match in Finland, where the men’s and women’s national teams had just arranged equal compensation and conditions, the Cypriot women demanded the same working conditions as the players of their men’s national team, including training facilities, daily allowances and equipment. They drew equality images on their hands and used their social media channels to protest.
Despite serious pressure by the Cypriot football association, who tried to silence them by excluding players from the national team and threatening to ruin their careers, the players continued their protest, which turned into a national debate. The women received support from the men’s national team and many other athletes, fans, media, members of parliament, and the Commissioner on Equality Matters.
This resulted in talks between player union PASP and the Cypriot Parliament about creating legislation regarding gender equality in sports.
The winners of the FIFPRO Merit Awards were picked by a selection committee, consisting of former Merit Award winner Haley Carter, Global Player Council member Gabriella Garton, and union representatives from all FIFPRO Divisions (Africa, Americas, Asia and Europe). The committee said it was impressed with the achievements of all eight nominees for the Merit Awards.
What the jury said:
By speaking out and using their collective voice, the players risked their careers in football, but that didn’t stop them. They stood firm and continued their efforts of trying to create a better future for all female players. This epitomises what FIFPRO is all about: acting as a collective and showing solidarity with other players.
These players are a great example for many players in other countries that are striving for gender equality.