FIFA: Being A Woman Is A Disability


Valerie Achille

FIFA (International Federation of Association Football) constantly pats itself on the back for promoting women’s football. One of FIFA stated missions is to “promote the development of women’s football and pledge to support women’s football financially.” Yet, controversial statements in the official “Laws of The Game” documentation has left people questioning whether this is another example of FIFA’s never-ending sex discrimination.

In the recently updated official FIFA “Laws of the Game”, there is a specific section known as “Modifications”. This section is to accommodate players with special needs due to age (under 16 or over 35), disabilities and sex. Women’s football fans are up in arms over the fact that women are considered to need special adjustments simply due to their sex. Being a woman is not a disability! How can FIFA pretend that they promote women’s football when they see women’s football as a sport too overwhelming for these “feeble” women to play. So feeble, that they want to potentially change the “duration of play, size of the field, weight and size of the ball, and height of goal”, just to name a few. These modifications will delegitimize the women’s game. Women’s football is already not taken as seriously as the men’s game. With these adjustments, the skill level between the men and women’s game will be further polarized.

Some may argue that these modifications would make the game easier for women and thus improve women’s football. There are two main problems with this theory. One, why does the women’s game need to be made easier? These are professional athletes who dedicate their life to be able to play under these difficult conditions. If this idea was even true, these same modifications would make the men’s game easier and improve the men’s game. The reason this modifications are being set is because there is simply not as much respect and support for the women’s game. In addition, these modifications do not necessarily have the female player’s best interest at heart. These modifications have allowed FIFA to make all the games in the 2015 Women’s World Cup be played on turf field. Turf fields are notorious for causing injuries. In every men’s World Cup, games were played on natural grass. The reality is that FIFA does not want to pay extra money on natural grass because more time and money would be spent managing the field. To me, this does not look like FIFA is truly pledging to “support women’s football financially.”

What FIFA needs to realize is that women footballers are capable of playing under the same conditions as men. Actually, women are MORE than capable; women footballers have been breaking records in international football for decades. If FIFA thinks women can’t play for the same duration as men, then they should have a chat with Alex Morgan who scored the winning goal in the Olympic semi-final match during the 123rd minute – the latest goal in all international history. If FIFA thinks that the goals need to be smaller, then maybe Abby Wambach can change their mind – the all-time leading international goal scorer with a whopping 177 goals. The closest a man has ever came to this record was Ali Daei with only 109 goals. In fact, Daei is the only male player to have scored at least 100 international goals, while there been 13 female players who have reached this achievement.

Now, I am not by any means trying to justify the legitimacy of women’s football by comparing it to the men’s game. I understand that there are still a lot of areas where women’s football needs to catch up. However, women’s football is a fairly new development compared to the men’s sport, where the first men’s World Cup occurred in 1931 the first Women’s World Cup started in 1991, 60 years after the men. What I am pointing out is that despite this large time gap, women’s football has made incredible leaps and progress but by adding these modifications will only set women’ football backwards. If we want fans to support and respect women’s football, then the support and respect must start from the organization responsible for women’s football. It looks like what really needs modifying is FIFA’s attitude towards women’s football.

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One response to “FIFA: Being A Woman Is A Disability”

  1. Anonymous says :

    Great blog Valerie! Your absolutely right that changes must be made. The difficulty is that we have to change an old culture. I’m afraid it will take a long time to change such a man dominated culture…

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