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(Vancouver, July 3, 2015) FIFPro today officially unveiled several initiatives designed to usher in a new era of gender equality in world football, including a global mobilization and outreach campaign to secure the fundamental rights of female players, an Advisory Board of respected past and present international stars, a global player survey, and plans to create a player-driven World XI award for women.

Female players worldwide are now empowered to join FIFPro as direct members, the first time in the 50-year history of the World Footballers’ Union that such a service has been made possible, for any player, anywhere, male or female. This historic move breaks from tradition in order to help bridge the gap in countries where the possibility still does not exist for these players to join their local union. It will also assist national team players who have no representation and require assistance in collectively bargaining with their national federations and protecting their rights in major international tournaments such as the FIFA World Cup.

The announcement was made today, in Vancouver, on the eve of this year’s World Cup final, where FIFPro officials and players from both the men’s and women’s professional arena, including Verónica Boquete (Spain, Bayern Munich), Karina LeBlanc (Canada), Lydia Williams (Australia) and Sone Aluko (Nigeria, Hull City) all gathered to support FIFPro.

Today’s announcement revealed a new Advisory Board made up of respected female footballers which will play a key role in guiding FIFPro’s bid to improve working conditions for female professionals worldwide. They are:

  • Verónica Boquete (Spain)
  • Rita Chikwelu (Nigeria)
  • Monica Gonzalez (Mexico)
  • Lotta Schelin (Sweden)
  • Kirsten van de Ven (Netherlands)
  • Lydia Williams (Australia)

Under the guidance of former Swedish international Caroline Jönsson, the Head of FIFPro’s Women’s Football Committee, this Advisory Board, which will continue to grow, aims to elevate the women’s game to even greater heights.

A key concern for FIFPro is that many players who are employed by clubs on a professional, full-time basis are still defined as amateurs. FIFPro states that every country, where this problem exists, must come to terms with the changing nature of the women’s game and respect these female players for who they truly are – professionals. It is a matter of equal rights.

According to FIFPro’s global database, an estimated 1,300 female players worldwide are officially recognised as professionals. However, FIFPro’s research shows there are almost 4,500 players who should be defined as professionals. Currently, 26 of FIFPro’s 58 member countries across the globe are in a position to offer female players membership. FIFPro announced today it will survey players worldwide to increase this knowledge base.

In addition, FIFPro will create a World XI award for women, voted by female players, to replicate the kind of recognition their male counterparts have enjoyed since 2005. This award, regarded as the ultimate accolade among players in being selected by one’s peers, is an important instrument to promote equality for women and long-overdue respect for their achievements on the pitch.

During the announcement, FIFPro also unveiled video messages of support from some of the world’s most recognisable male and female footballers, including Cristiano Ronaldo, Lionel Messi and Marta who said, "FIFPro allows us (players) to be heard on a global level." United in solidarity, they emphasized the values of FIFPro to help mark the organisation’s 50th Anniversary year.

Spanish star, Verónica Boquete, a UEFA Champions League winner with Frankfurt last season, who also captained her country at this year’s World Cup, said: “Building on the growing popularity of women’s football, we are taking a critical step to bring about fairness, respect and equality to the women’s game. No player should ever be left alone and FIFPro makes that possible for which we as players are extremely grateful.”

Theo van Seggelen, Secretary-General of FIFPro, described today’s announcement as a milestone for FIFPro, in reforming the organisation’s statutes to make direct membership for female players a possibility: “Hopefully, this will stimulate the work in countries where female players are not getting the respect they deserve. As the peak body for players’ interests, FIFPro can help these players make a real difference on a global level. In fact, I think we can learn from the mistakes of the men’s game and apply all those lessons to create an even better women’s game.”

Caroline Jonsson, who is spearheading FIFPro’s global outreach initiative, said her own experience of helping establish the first ever CBA exclusively for female players, in her native Sweden, fuels a burning desire to see a similarly progressive model extended to all countries: “Sweden took that step in 2007. Other countries are starting to catch up and they see the need, as does FIFPro, in line with the growth of women’s football,but there is a long way to go.”

“We, all players together within FIFPro, need to be at the forefront of social change and change within the game, as a guardian for women’s football.”