JILLIAN ANGELINE / AIPS** in AMMAN: Tatjana Haenni, FIFA’s head of women’s competitions, is looking forward to the world federation approving plans to insist that men’s clubs offer the same competitive opportunities to women.
This may be of particular interest to European champions Real Madrid and to Manchester United – the world’s two richest clubs – who are nehind the times when it comes for footballing gender equality.

Haenni told AIPS: “We have club licensing which is one of the projects FIFA is working on right now. It’s implementing with all confederations.

“It was a huge battle, but in there, it will say, most likely will say, these clubs who want to participate in their highest continental competition, like in Europe the men’s Champions League, they have to have a women’s team.”

This regulation has just been endorsed by CONMEBOL in South America for future editions of the Copa Libertadores.

Haenni praised Portland Thorns in the United States as a perfect example of linking women’s and men’s football.

She expressed her hopes for a prioritization of women’s football under FIFA’s new leadership while regretting the current lack of greater women’s representation in decision-making positions after nearly 50 years of the official existence of women’s football.

A new FIFA quota system saw five women among the 30-plus members who attended last week’s meeting of the newly-expanded FIFA Council.

Haenni said: “It is a struggle if women are not physically at the table helping to make key decisions. There’s more to be done if women’s football is to be a reflection of society.”

Haenni made a clear distinction regarding women’s football: the women playing football and then women in football. Topics surrounding women playing football involve the technical allotment, protection of players, medical discussions and coaching issues.

She said: “Women in football has nothing to do with only women’s football. Not everyone in women’s football has to be a woman. We have great male coaches in women’s football and we should not exclude them.”

The impact of women’s football can be seen at the current FIFA U17 Women’s World Cup in Jordan.

Haenni said the event would, in the long term, help the infrastructure, the development of women’s football and assist men’s football in reaching the necessary standards.

She added: “There’s a trend that, in the future requirements for under 17 boys and girls, competition will be lowered to give more opportunities to less developed countries to host world cups because I think there’s a huge benefit if you host a world cup. For some it just isn’t possible and I think we would like to change that.”

** AIPS is the international sports journalists’ association with 10,000 members worldwide – currently holding a Young Reporters graduation course in at the FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup Jordan 2016. More information: www.AIPSmedia.com

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