Women’s football is not about women’s football; it’s about football, and so the vernacular of football needs to be changed now.
That was the advice from Concacaf’s President Victor Montagliani during his one-on-one remarks with Concacaf Head of Women’s Football, Karina Le Blanc yesterday. They were speaking during the Concacaf W Business Of Belonging: Women & Football seminar.
“The vernacular needs to change as it relates to women’s football. It’s not about the future. Of course, there is a future, but it’s about the present, it’s about football, it’s about making changes now. To me, that is the most important thing. You’ve always heard women’s football is the future of the game. It’s not the future of the game, it’s the present of the game and the past of the game because it’s got history,” he said.
“From a strategic standpoint, you soon realize that women’s football is not about women’s football; it’s about football, and the success of that has a tremendous effect. Success in the women’s program equals success in the men’s program, equals success in the youth program, equals success in your federation, equals success in commercial and sponsorship, and all that. I think the success you’re seeing, quite frankly on the men’s side is because of what you’re seeing on the women’s side and it pushed the envelope,” he added.
The president, who took charge in 2016, said the “we” was not gender-based.
“We is not directed to 50 percent of the population, it is directed to 100 percent of the population, because we need to not only raise the consciousness of the other 50 percent, we also need to raise the consciousness of everybody. We need to create consumers of women’s football. Whether it is a man or a woman, we want them to go to a stadium and buy a ticket, buy a jersey, invest their human capital into coaching girls, or administering a women’s club. Whatever it is, we need to create consumers of women’s football. That could mean the next step and the next evolution of women’s football,” he said.
But, Montagliani noted that could only be had if the tone and attitude of the discussion changed.
“The tone needs to start at the top, and we as leaders in football we change that tone and attitude in a respectful way and I think it is going to pay dividends. We set the platform in our own confederation with the new eco-system that we’ve launched,” he encouraged.
Montagliani, who is also Vice-President of FIFA, said the time for action was now.
“The call to action is that we cannot now waste time and think about this eco-system, the women’s program in your federation or your club that we’re thinking about a long-term future. Really the call to action is that we need to act now, we need to build on the successes of our region, we need to build on the environment that has been set by our leaders, and here at Concacaf we’re here to help that process,” he pledged.
He said leaders across the 41 Member Associations needed to use the global influence of the women’s game.
“It’s about finding those opportunities now, where you can act to create an immediate impact of success. Success does not mean winning a medal, success means creating opportunities. For example doubling the registration of the girls playing football in your federation, which might be a bigger success than winning an Olympic gold medal. It is by identifying those successes that you can act immediately and propagate the wheel to move forward at your federation or at your club. Regardless of what vehicle you use in football, whether it is youth, futsal, or beach [football], I think those are opportunities that can be used to leverage the platform for your programs,” he urged.