Women’s national teams on the rise


The number of active women’s national teams rose sharply in the three years prior to the coronavirus pandemic thanks to player activism. However, Africa has the highest number of inactive women’s national teams at 28.

That’s according to research in the International Federation of Professional Footballers (FIFPRO’s) Raising Our Game. Africa is followed by followed by Asia (15), Central America (8), and Europe (5).

Banyana Banyana have only played one international match in 2020 against Lesotho at Tsakane Stadium in March and before that, they had last played in November 2019 when they lost to Japan at the Kitakyushu Stadium in Fukuoka.

The South African national women’s team beat Lesotho 3-0 in their first international encounter in 2020.

But overall, seventy-three percent of federations fund an active women’s national team, up from 55% in 2017, the report says, citing March 2019 data. FIFA qualifies active national teams as having played at least five matches in the previous 18 months.

In comparison, 100 percent of the federations organised a men’s national team.

All national team football is currently suspended because of the coronavirus pandemic. FIFPRO is working with other football stakeholders to continue the development of the women’s game and mitigate the effects of the pandemic.

The data shows that, before the pandemic, more than one in four FIFA-affiliated federations still did not organise regular football matches for a women’s national team.

The improved participation data between 2017 and 2019 is partly down to activism by South American women players, who have successfully campaigned for more support from their national federation.

By the end of 2016, six of the ten women’s national teams in the region – Argentina, Bolivia, Chile, Peru, Paraguay, and Uruguay – were removed from the women’s FIFA rankings as a result of inactivity of more than 730 days.

Federations in some of these countries stopped funding their national teams because there were no financial incentives available to them outside the Olympics or FIFA World Cup.

Women players in many of these countries fought back, campaigning for better treatment. Some set up their own unions or staged public protests. In 2018, FIFPRO helped mobilize them by organizing the first FIFPRO South American Forum in Santiago de Chile.

According to Raising Our Game, South America and Oceania were the only regions in the world with a full quota of women’s national teams last year.

Raising Our Game – report: https://fifpro.org/media/vd1pbtbj/fifpro-womens-report_eng-lowres.pdf

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Edited by Tokelo Martin Mokhesi 

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