“The KPFA, as a member of FIFPRO, underlines that players should not be distinguished by gender,” Ji said when she was introduced this week. “I hope to establish a platform where we can think of ways to develop Korean football and protect player rights for both men and women.”
Fellow co-president Lee added: “When it comes down to the rights of football players, we do not consider gender. The KPFA is an organisation that represents players. Together, as football players, we will share our opinions and work to develop Korean football.”
Lee and Ji are two of the most prolific players in South Korea. Lee made 84 appearances for the national team and was named Asian footballer of the year in 2012. Ji is the most popular female player, appearing 125 times for Korea and playing for Chelsea since 2014. She is the first non-British player with 100 matches in the English Women Super League.
The Korean player association decided to appoint Ji So-Yun as co-president after FIFPRO announced its statutory reforms last month to include more women in leadership roles within the organisation. The global union introduced a 33 percent threshold for women executives in its global board.
“The KPFA wishes to build upon this,” KPFA Secretary General Kim Hoon-Ki said. “We hope to establish a system where both men and women football players can equally express their thoughts.”
Ji is planning to inform women players at clubs in her country about the work done by the KPFA and FIFPRO. Recently the KPFA started visiting women players at their clubs, among others to conduct a survey about working conditions.
“I would like to congratulate Ms. Ji So-Yun and all our colleagues at the KPFA,” said FIFPRO Asia Chairman Takuya Yamazaki. “This is a historic initiative that provides courage to all female players in Asia. The players are seeking true partnership with the management to raise the bar for the entire football industry through dialogue.”
“I strongly hope that this will be the first of many events that will create more opportunities for equal dialogue and collaboration among the stakeholders in Asia.”
Note: Last year, Professional Footballers Australia became the first FIFPRO member union to appoint a male and a female co-chief executive with former players Kathryn Gill and Beau Busch. The PFA's president is a male player, Alex Wilkinson.