Fair Play


With all due respect to all of the amazing efforts by men and women to create fantastic opportunities for girls and women in sport, there is still a massive gap in funding and career advancement.  The opinions below take into account the tremendous progress that has occurred in the past decades.  Due to the great efforts of the soccer associations, girls and women are continuing to thrive in their sport.  Thanks to the World Cup, doors are opening around the world for fantastic social changes.  However, there are still major shifts that need to be acknowledged.  We are recognizing the challenges that girls and women are facing on and off the field and we are bringing these issues up for debate with the esteem that it will foster positive developments that lead to equity in Canada and globally. 


The FIFA Fair Play Award is a FIFA recognition of good or sporting behaviour or other actions by people or bodies involved in association football around the world.

Sportsmanship (or sometimes sportspersonship) is an aspiration or ethos that a sport or activity will be enjoyed for its with proper consideration for fairness, ethics, respect, and a sense of fellowship with one’s competitors.

Sportsmanship can be conceptualized as an enduring and relatively stable characteristic or disposition such that individuals differ in the way they are generally expected to behave in sport situations. In general, sportsmanship refers to virtues such as fairness, self-control, courage, and persistence and has been associated with interpersonal concepts of treating others and being treated fairly, maintaining self-control if dealing with others, and respect for both authority and opponents.



 Women are 2nd Class Citizens in Soccer

In Canada, 47% of all registered players are female.  The Women’s National Team has been very successful and has participated in the past two Olympic Games and five FIFA Women’s World Cups.  Yet, the Canadian Soccer Association Board has had only one female member in the past 100 years.  Recently two additional members have been included.  On average, women represent less than 1% on National and Provincial Soccer Associations across Canada. Women represent less than 1% of professional coaches in clubs, provincial, national and semi-professional teams.  As well, the Women’s National Team has battled for years/decades for adequate funding and is estimated to receive less than 10% of the national team budget. Top players have to pay to play on Provincial and high performance teams during their development.  Semi-professional appearing players are not earning wages yet are asked to do appearances for brands that are paying the organization millions of sponsorship dollars.  In addition, girls and women are paying 47% of the wages of all of the male decision makers who are excluding them from adequate funding, equal playing opportunities and business or career initiatives. Major corporations and professional clubs are using girls and women to create a family value package for their marketing initiatives to benefit their organization with barely any financial benefits directly going to girls and women.

Example:  A major corporation sponsors a professional soccer club or national program and pays the club millions of dollars to be included in their marketing promotions.  The promotions include girls and boys playing soccer to inspire a happy full family atmosphere where the professional club appears to be promoting girls soccer.  Yet the women’s soccer team in that club receives very limited funding, they are expected to attend appearances and do coaching clinics to promote the corporation and the soccer club despite the fact that they do not receive any of the financial remuneration from the club or sponsors for their participation in the marketing plan.  Meanwhile, the men’s team and business receives 100% of the benefits through salaries, revenue and the opportunity to play in a fully supported professional atmosphere.

* In 2012 the Vancouver Whitecaps eliminated the Women’s soccer team program.



Few countries in the world support girls and women to engage in physically active sports such as soccer because it is perceived as a “male” sport.  Many girls are verbally and physically abused domestically or in their community for participating.  In some cultures, girls are even forbidden to show their arms, legs or face.

Ridicule or bullying can include being told that they are manly, homosexual, undesirable, and unattractive or troubled for wanting to play.  They can often be criticized for their abilities or skills compared to boys which may or may not be as progressive as theirs and left with the feeling of being inadequate and shamed.

Often girls and women are given undesirable playing times, fields, equipment and funding since their participation is considered “unimportant” or is not viewed as commercially viable.

Example:  The 2011 World Cup Champion Japanese Women’s National Team sat in the coach section of their aircraft from Tokyo to Paris for the 2012 Summer Olympics while the men’s team traveled in business class.

Players and families fear to voice their needs or justice due to the potential removal from teams, loss of playing time or isolation in the group.  This is especially true for high level players where their entire careers on a professional or national team level can be jeopardized.

A number of countries such as the United States and Germany have excellent programs to give girls and women of all ages the chance to play in organized leagues from recreation to national teams.  Most countries are still developing the resources to manifest these opportunities since almost all funding to goes to boys and men despite the millions of dollars invested in soccer.  The US also leads the world in offering scholarship programs for women to continue their pursuit in athletics and education.  The Women’s Pro Soccer League which will resume in 2013 is considered the best league in the world and is a model for other nations in the future.



Women Helping Women

Often women can create their own challenges by magnifying personal issues and participating in subtle bullying tactics to demean other women who are striving to improve their lives.  The more women work and cooperate with each other to share their successes and inspirations, the more productive, safe and happy women will be working towards a mutual transformation.

As well, frequently women who are in leadership positions have been safely chosen by male decision makers to have personalities that will not fight for radical changes or equity.  Women are afraid to ask for what they believe is fair because they don’t want to lose their job or position.  They can also become very protective of their positions and power especially with like minded compatriots and not end up serving the women they originally intended to help.

 Chronic Oppression

So many girls and women are so used to the status quo or tired from fighting for the smallest injustices or they haven’t experienced a situation where they can be fully embraced for their passions, talents and liberties;  so they accept the mediocre.  They cannot imagine a better world for themselves and other women.  Change seems impossible.

 Interesting Statistics

* Women account for two thirds of the 1.4 billion people currently living in extreme poverty.

* Women make up 64 percent of the 774 million illiterate adults in the world. Globally, 77 percent of women are literate, compared to 87 percent of men.

* Across the globe, 70 per cent of the world’s poor are women, women earn less than 10 per cent of the world’s wages – but, women do more than two thirds of the world’s work.

* On average women reinvest 90 per cent of their income into their families while men invest only 30-40 per cent.

For more information about womens empowerment: http://www.womendeliver.org/knowledge-center/facts-figures/gender-equity/





The Equal Play team is thrilled to be working with by Olympic Medal designer Corrine Hunt & Jeweller Sandra Bars, in producing this beautiful sterling silver pendant as a symbol of equality and the rights of women and girls on and off the field.