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FIFA says support of women’s game will continue

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Soccer’s international governing body says it will maintain funding for women’s soccer despite concerns about the impact of the coronavirus pandemic.

Following the Women’s World Cup last year, FIFA President Gianni Infantino pledged to invest $1 billion in the women’s game over the next four years.

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“In line with the FIFA Women’s Football Strategy and FIFA’s long-term vision for the development of women’s football, this funding will be invested into a range of areas in the women’s game including competitions, capacity building, development programs, governance and leadership, professionalization and technical programs,” FIFA said in a statement provided Tuesday to The Associated Press. “We can confirm that this funding has already been committed by FIFA and will not be impacted by the current COVID-19 crisis.”

The Guardian first reported that FIFA’s funding would not drop because of the coronavirus.

FIFA also said it is assessing the financial impact the pandemic is having on soccer worldwide, including the women’s game, and is exploring possible ways to provide assistance.

“The exact format and details of this assistance are currently being discussed in consultation with FIFA’s member associations, the confederations and other stakeholders,” the organization said.

FIFA has said it sees a duty to offer a lifeline from its cash reserves, last reported at more than $2.7 billion, as the economic consequences of the pandemic ripple across global soccer.

“FIFA is in a strong financial situation and it’s our duty to do the utmost to help them in their hour of need,” the organization said in a statement late last month. “FIFA is working on possibilities to provide assistance to the football community around the world after making a comprehensive assessment of the financial impact this pandemic will have on football.”

Infantino reiterated the pledge in a video message to FIFA’s member associations.

FIFA’s commitment comes after FIFPro, the international players’ union, called for continued financial support of women’s soccer worldwide. The union issued a report saying COVID-19 is “likely to present an almost existential threat to the women’s game if no specific considerations are given to protect the women’s football industry.”

There are early signs the pandemic is already taking a toll on the women’s game, in addition to the cancellation and postponement of league play and tournaments worldwide. In Colombia, Independiente Santa Fe suspended all player contracts for its women’s soccer team recently but said its men’s team would only see pay cuts.

The pandemic struck at a time when women’s soccer was on the upswing, boosted by the success of last year’s World Cup in France.

“We do have concerns about investments in the women’s game being dropped or reduced or precrisis investments being withdrawn, ultimately, from the women’s game. We’re concerned that decision-makers might ignore the needs of women or exclude women’s football from recovering support programs,” said Amanda Vandervort, chief women’s football officer for FIFPro.

FIFPro calls for maintaining support for women’s soccer

Women's Soccer
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The international players’ union FIFPro is calling for continued financial support of women’s soccer worldwide in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic.

FIFPro issued a report Thursday warning of COVID-19’s impact, saying it is “likely to present an almost existential threat to the women’s game if no specific considerations are given to protect the women’s football industry.”

that the global absence of industry standards and worker protections means women are especially vulnerable and that an economic downturn could affect otherwise stable clubs.

There are signs the pandemic is already taking a toll in addition to the cancellation and postponement of league play and tournaments worldwide. In Colombia, Independiente Santa Fe suspended all player contracts for its women’s soccer team recently but said its men’s team would only see pay cuts.

The pandemic came at a time when women’s soccer was on the upswing, boosted by the success of last year’s World Cup in France.

“We do have concerns about investments in the women’s game being dropped or reduced or pre-crisis investments being withdrawn, ultimately, from the women’s game. We’re concerned that decision-makers might ignore the needs of women or exclude women’s football from recovering support programs,” said Amanda Vandervort, FIFPro chief women’s football officer.

“But we’re here with solutions and to present ideas and innovations, and a new way to approach women’s football for the best interests of the players and the long-term success of our women’s football industry.”

A 2017 FIFPro survey showed most women’s players don’t earn a living wage: 60% of paid players take home less than $600 a month and 37% say they are paid late.

FIFPro laid out five recommendations for the industry: Prioritize player physical and mental care, apply special financial measures for players and clubs, ensure pre-pandemic investments aren’t withdrawn, make sure women are included in any financial relief measures and develop solidarity systems across the women’s game to insure its recovery.

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“We just thought it was an absolute necessity to highlight, in the course of this crisis management problem, the importance of paying conscious attention to the women’s game because the damage that a crisis like this can have on an industry which has been growing so well but is still very fragile in many places, can be very drastic,” FIFPro general secretary Jonas Baer-Hoffmann said.

The Netherlands-based organization plans to release a larger report later this month on the growth and development of women’s soccer.

“I think what is very clear, and we just have to come to terms with it, is that football, as many other parts of our society, will look very different very soon. And I think there is a fundamental question here whether we want to rebuild based on the initial short-term commercial views of the game only, or whether we want to start building it around a set of values that can actually sustain and bring out the best parts of what we are involved in, in the long term,” Baer-Hoffmann said.

Players to get more power from new FIFA contract rules

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ZURICH (AP) Players are getting more power from FIFA to leave soccer clubs who delay paying salaries or mistreat them.

FIFA and FIFPro, the global group of player unions, say that new rules relating to players have helped them sign a six-year working agreement.

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The Netherlands-based FIFPro has also agreed to withdraw a complaint about FIFA-controlled transfer rules filed to the European Commission in September 2015.

Players will soon be free to cancel their contract if clubs fall two months behind paying salaries, or harass them with tactics such as orders to train alone.

Clubs face transfer bans by failing to pay FIFA-ordered compensation to players, who have been promised faster rulings on contract disputes.

The rules came from a wider FIFA agreement with stakeholders, including clubs and leagues worldwide.

Shortlist for FIFPro World 11 team for 2016: Vardy joins Messi, Ronaldo

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There are plenty of familiar names on the 55-man shortlist to be in the FIFPro World 11 team of 2016… and then there’s Jamie Vardy.

After his fairytale season for Leicester City in the Premier League in 2015-16, Vardy, 29, has been included in FIFPro’s nomination for the first time in his career, with the votes being cast by “more than 25,000 professional footballers from over 75 different countries” according to FIFA as each player selects a goalkeeper, four defenders, three midfielders and three forwards.

Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo, obviously, are both on the shortlist and both superstars have been selected in the team in each of the last nine years.

There are 15 Premier League stars named in total, with Manchester City’s Sergio Aguero, Kevin De Bruyne, Claudio Bravo and David Silva included, plus Arsenal’s Hector Bellerin, Mesut Ozil and Alexis Sanchez also getting the nod. Manchester United’s trio of David De Gea, Paul Pogba and Zlatan Ibrahimovic make the cut, as do Chelsea’s Eden Hazard, N'Golo Kante and David Luiz.

Making up the PL contingent is West Ham’s Dimitri Payet, while Barcelona led the way with 12 players selected and reigning European champs Real Madrid have 10 players.

Vardy is the only Englishman to make the list, with Wayne Rooney missing out for the first time in the 12-year history of the award.

Below is the full list of the 55 candidates, with the winners to be announced on Jan. 9, 2017 in Zurich at FIFA’s The Best Football Awards.


Goalkeepers (5): Claudio Bravo (Chile/FC Barcelona/Manchester City), Gianluigi Buffon (Italy/Juventus), David de Gea (Spain/Manchester United), Keylor Navas (Costa Rica/Real Madrid) and Manuel Neuer (Germany/FC Bayern Munich).

Defenders (20): David Alaba (Austria/FC Bayern Munich), Jordi Alba (Spain/FC Barcelona), Serge Aurier (Côte d’Ivoire/Paris Saint-Germain), Héctor Bellerìn (Spain/Arsenal), Jérôme Boateng (Germany/FC Bayern Munich), Leonardo Bonucci (Italy/Juventus), Daniel Carvajal (Spain/Real Madrid), Giorgio Chiellini (Italy/Juventus), Dani Alves (Brazil/FC Barcelona/Juventus), David Luiz (Brazil/Paris Saint-Germain/Chelsea), Diego Godín (Uruguay/Atlético Madrid), Mats Hummels (Germany/Borussia Dortmund/FC Bayern Munich), Philipp Lahm (Germany/FC Bayern Munich), Marcelo (Brazil/Real Madrid), Javier Mascherano (Argentina/FC Barcelona), Pepe (Portugal/Real Madrid), Gerard Piqué (Spain/FC Barcelona), Sergio Ramos (Spain/Real Madrid), Thiago Silva (Brazil/Paris Saint-Germain) and Raphaël Varane (France/Real Madrid).

Midfielders (15): Xabi Alonso (Spain/FC Bayern Munich), Sergio Busquets (Spain/FC Barcelona), Kevin De Bruyne (Belgium/Manchester City), Eden Hazard (Belgium/Chelsea), Andrés Iniesta (Spain/FC Barcelona), N’Golo Kanté (France/Leicester City/Chelsea) Toni Kroos (Germany/Real Madrid), Luka Modrić (Croatia/Real Madrid), Mesut Özil (Germany/Arsenal), Dimitri Payet (France/West Ham United), Paul Pogba (France/Juventus/Manchester United), Ivan Rakitić (Croatia/FC Barcelona), David Silva (Spain/Manchester City), Marco Verratti (Italy/Paris Saint-Germain) and Arturo Vidal (Chile/FC Bayern Munich).

Strikers (15): Sergio Agüero (Argentina/Manchester City), Gareth Bale (Wales/Real Madrid), Karim Benzema (France/Real Madrid), Cristiano Ronaldo (Portugal/Real Madrid), Paulo Dybala (Argentina/Juventus), Antoine Griezmann (France/Atlético Madrid), Gonzalo Higuaín (Argentina/Napoli/Juventus), Zlatan Ibrahimović (Sweden/Paris Saint-Germain/Manchester United), Robert Lewandowski (Poland/FC Bayern Munich), Lionel Messi (Argentina/FC Barcelona), Thomas Müller (Germany/FC Bayern Munich), Neymar (Brazil/FC Barcelona), Alexis Sánchez (Chile/Arsenal), Luis Suárez (Uruguay/FC Barcelona) and Jamie Vardy (England/Leicester City).

The FIFA FIFPro World XI revealed; Germany leads the way with three

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One of the first happenings at the Ballon D’Or gala on Monday was the unveiling of the FIFA FIFPro World XI, and it’s no surprise that World Cup champion Germany has a trio of players representing club and/or country

Manuel Neuer is between the sticks for this imaginary team after leading Germany and Bayern Munich to championships last season, and he’s joined by his club and countrymate Philipp Lahm on the squad. Bayern’s Arjen Robben is one of the 4-3-3 formation’s three up top

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Real Madrid’s Sergio Ramos and club teammate Toni Kroos of Germany are, of course, joined by Cristiano Ronaldo, while Lionel Messi and Andres Iniesta represent Barcelona.

Meanwhile, David Luiz and Thiago Silva, now together at Brazil and Paris Saint-Germain are on the list, with current Manchester United midfielder Angel Di Maria.

Notable snubs include Manchester City’s Yaya Toure and Chelsea’s Eden Hazard, as well as Juventus’ Andrea Pirlo.

FIFA FIFPro World XI
GOALKEEPER: Manuel Neuer
DEFENDERS: Philipp Lahm, Sergio Ramos, David Luiz, Thiago Silva
MIDFIELDERS: Angel Di Maria, Toni Kroos, Andres Iniesta
FORWARDS: Lionel Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo, Arjen Robben.

By current club
Real Madrid – 3
Bayern Munich – 3
Barcelona – 2
Paris Saint-Germain – 2
Manchester United – 1

By national team
Germany – 3
Brazil – 2
Argentina – 2
Spain – 2
Portugal – 1
Netherlands – 1