Friday, January 20, 2017

Sports Law Guest Series - FIFA’s Treatment of Women #1

Occasionally we will have guest writers who have previously written something or report on something they are researching currently to spread their work.  Most of these guest posts will be from close friends and family, looking to provide different aspects, perspectives and knowledge of the health, wellness, medical, and sport industries. 

Our first guest will be Phillip Jones, my brother and current Law Student at Indiana University.  This report is about FIFA's Treatment of Women, from his Sports Law class. 

***Due to the length we will create a series of posts released over the next week covering the different sections his essay.  So check back to read on!

Executive Summary

Since the founding of FIFA in 1904 and the first ever Women’s World Cup in 1991, there has been a great divide in the equality of men and women in the sport of soccer. Despite the $17 million in revenue and over 18 million viewers brought in by the 2014 Women’s World Cup, FIFA still continues to ignore the struggles faced by their female athletes. FIFA has effectively created this equality gap through systematically:

1. Supporting sexism in the organization’s culture and hiring,

2. Providing unequal pay distribution between the genders,

3. Failing to provide the same quality facilities to female athletes as they do for their male counterparts,

4. Forcing females to play under unsafe conditions on turf fields.

In the past couple of years FIFA has been hit with litigation over many of these issues, while simultaneously combating numerous bribery scandals. With soccer being the most popular sport on the world stage, both boys and girls should be given the opportunity to participate in the game at an equal level. In this report I will further explore the position of my stakeholder, address and explain the issues faced by the female athletes, discuss recent litigation proposed on behalf of my stakeholders against FIFA, and provide supporting evidence from expert opinions and credible sources to back my claims. Furthermore, I will describe potential public policy solutions that have been agreed upon between both my stakeholder and FIFA. These solutions will be focused around promoting equality in the sport and using the power of sports to send a positive message to girls with a dream of playing soccer at the top level.

Injustice faced by women in soccer needs to be addressed and policies need to be put in place to correct the issue. Female athletes should be a very important stakeholder for FIFA as they bring in millions of dollars in revenue and viewership, and are a major branch of the organization. Unfortunately, these athletes have not been provided the same treatment as their male counterparts and face numerous issues with sexism, pay, unequal facilities, and unsafe playing conditions. These issues have put both economic and physical constraints on the players leading to injury on the field and law suits against FIFA. With the help of research and expert opinions this report will identify the stakeholder in question, address the sexist culture within FIFA, describe the pay inequality facing women in the sport, elaborate on the unequal facilities given to women, express concerns over the unsafe conditions forced upon the players, and discuss potential policy solutions that have agreed upon by both stakeholders. Furthermore, there will be numerous references to an expert in the field by the name of Liviu Bird that I was able to interview for this report. Bird played soccer in college, at the semi professional level, and now coaches at the professional level while also writing on the topic for papers such as Sports Illustrated and the New York Times.


The stakeholders represented in this report are women competing in soccer at the national level through FIFA and their Women’s World Cups. As players at the top tier these women are responsible for being role models to every girl who dreams to follow in their footsteps. With FIFA’s interest in hosting Women’s World Cups and promoting this level of play they should also have an interest in growing women’s soccer’s popularity and infrastructure; however, FIFA has instead been responsible for numerous negative impacts on the sport that have work to hurt the popularity of the sport and prevent its growth. The relationship between FIFA and its female athletes should be one of mutual growth instead of direct inequality.

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