- Inaugural Union Impact Award to be presented at FIFPRO General Assembly
- One winner decided from four finalists, who have carried out extraordinary work
- Vered Plitman explains how Israeli player union IFPO successfully arranged a new deal for the women’s national team
Next week the inaugural Union Impact Award will be presented at FIFPRO’s General Assembly, recognising the extraordinary initiatives unions are carrying out on the ground to support players worldwide.
FIFPRO spoke with IFPO Vice President Vered Plitman to hear about the union’s campaign that led to a new deal for the women’s national team.
“Even though women’s footballers were recognised as professional athletes two years ago, the Israeli Football Association (IFA) did not treat the women’s national team equally compared to the men’s national team. For instance, while the men enjoyed daily allowances of 500 euro and travelled business class, the women only had 15 euro and travelled as cheap as possible.
“Our union, together with the women’s team, had many talks with the IFA, but unfortunately the IFA did not live up to their many promises. That’s why IFPO and the women’s national team decided to announce a labour dispute and a strike. As we wanted to put a lot of pressure on the IFA, we announced it just two weeks before an international game against Bulgaria.
“To make the strike successful, we needed to organise and educate all women's players in order to prevent the IFA breaking the strike by calling up other players, as they had done with a previous attempt. We made sure that every player was connected and felt part of this fight.
“Karin Sendel, the captain of the national team and the chairperson of our union, and some other influential players took the lead, organised the players, held negotiations with the FA, and ran a communications campaign. We involved leading men's and women's athletes, women’s organisations, sports NGOs, and reached out to the Minister of Sports and other government officials.
“One of the activities was asking players and others involved to take a picture of a shirt and a pair of shoes thrown onto the grass, and add the hashtag #NotPlayingGames.”
“Our main goal was to get a new agreement which included equal rights and conditions for women. They should have the same opportunities to represent our country.
“We also wanted to change the attitude of sports officials, general public and media regarding women’s football and women’s football players, to make them understand why women deserve the same rights and conditions as men.
“This was not a fight of men versus women; it was a fight of people who believe in equality and the ones who do not.”
“The IFA invited IFPO, Karin, and the other leading players, for numerous meetings. Eventually, the women’s national team signed a new agreement that equalises playing conditions: pay, staff, hotels, and direct flights. Next to that, the IFA committed to creating a strategic plan for the next eight years on how to grow the women’s game in Israel.”
“This achievement is a good example for other women’s players, as it shows what they can achieve when they are united under the wings of a strong union, and when they have the strength of Karin and her colleagues.”
“This initiative was unprecedented. Never before in Israeli sports did athletes manage to use a work dispute and a strike threat as a pressure instrument.
“After this, men’s and women’s players really felt that if they stick together, and don’t let anybody come between them, that they could move mountains in Israeli football. It was important for women’s sports in general and gender equality in our society.”