A culture shift is needed to provide proper equality in football – a key message in a UEFA-backed study into gender equity in the game's governance, highlighted in the latest edition of UEFA Direct.
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UEFA's official magazine reports on the findings of a study – "Understanding the role of men in facilitating gender equity in football governance" – which concludes that supporting women in football is not the same as promoting women's football.
The study is one of six research projects that were chosen for 2019/20 by the UEFA Research Grant Programme jury, and has been compiled by Dr Donna de Haan, associate professor at The Hague University of Applied Sciences (Netherlands) and Professor Leanne Norman from Leeds Beckett University (England).
Their findings are based on interviews with 34 employees – 24 men and ten women – from seven national associations in the period up to February 2020. "People couldn't differentiate between the game played by women and women doing a job in football," says Dr De Haan, who suggests that equality is still seen as a 'nice-to-have' rather than a 'need-to-have' in the game.
"Whether you employ a woman in your finance team shouldn't be linked to the success of your women’s national team," Dr De Haan added. "It has to be a cultural thing. It's no good saying 'We value women in football' if you don't see them in decision-making places.
"I think in society, equality is a need-to-have, not a nice-to-have. Sport has a role to play in that and the momentum is building, but it’s going to take those in leadership and policy and governance [to act]."
UEFA Research Grant Programme (RGP)
The UEFA Research Grant Programme (RGP) is a prestigious grant programme designed for academics working in partnership with national associations to deliver research that improves strategic decision-making in European football. The RGP jury comprises representatives of the European football community and respected university representatives.