ZURICH, March 7, 2017 – How does one transform indisputably beautiful words like “equality” and “diversity” into concrete actions that make a difference? This years’ FIFA Conference for Equality and Inclusion set the stage for the many potential answers to this question and displayed just how complex the process is – both within football and in other areas of society.

On the occasion of International Women’s Day, the EGLSF was represented at the 3rd FIFA Annual Conference on Equality & Inclusion to provide a platform for open and honest debate about how to improve the support for women’s football and women in football.

“When an organisation as influential as FIFA embraces the cause of women’s rights, this means a major step for the whole of society; for areas that go well beyond sports,” said deputy director of UN Women Lakshmi Puri during her opening keynote speech.

The theme for this year’s conference was ‘Making Equality a Reality’. FIFA strives to listen, share and learn and is committed to addressing the importance of diversity and inclusion in football.

FIFA President Gianni Infantino welcomed the participants with a summary of the steps that the organisation has taken over the last 12 months and what it aims to do in the years to come.

Some striking facts about the inequality between men and women in general were given by Professor Sue Bridgewater of the University of Liverpool. One of the major facts was the salary gap between men and women. This is still a serious problem, even in the developed countries in Europe. As women have less to spend, this is something that should be really kept in mind for EuroGames and other tournament organisers.

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At a certain point, former Dutch professional and UEFA diversity ambassador, Clarence Seedorf, was asked by our member the Russian LGBT Sport Federation, what he thought FIFA should do about the fact the next year’s Football World Cup will be held in Russia, where LGBTIQ-people can not be open about their sexual orientation or gender identity. Mr Seedorf avoided the question, saying this conference was for women.

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Later Mr Seedorf asked the former captain of the German men’s national team, Thomas Hitzlsperger, who came out after his career, why he had the need to come out in public. Thomas replied that “every straight player comes out about his sexual orientation, as we all hear about their wives and girlfriends in the news.” The fact the news about him being gay was not important for him, but it was the media that made it big news.

The EGLSF was represented by Diana van den Born.

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Photo credit:- Diana van den Born