Europe’s female representative on FIFA’s ruling council says one of her missions is to eradicate a “stupid cliche” about women “looking like false men playing football or lesbian.”
Evelina Christillin, a veteran Italian sports executive, was elected unopposed on Wednesday by the UEFA Congress to assume one of six new guaranteed FIFA leadership roles for women in a drive for greater gender equality in the male-dominated sport.
Asked about changing women’s football, Christillin said: “It’s very important because I hate this stupid cliche about women looking like false men playing football or lesbian or whatever it is.”
“I think female football is a wonderful sport,” she added after the congress of European soccer’s governing body. “They are wonderful athletes and so they have to be respected and possibly paid not as much as men but at least recognised, honoUred and praised.”
That means narrowing the disparities between the men’s and women’s game.
While FIFA gave out $576 million in prize money at the last men’s World Cup in 2014, including $35 million for champion Germany, the global governing body awarded $15 million at last year’s Women’s World Cup, with $2 million going to the champion United States.
“We have to work to improve and to boost these conditions both financially and sporting (for women),” Christillin said. “The same prize (money) would be difficult at the very beginning but little by little I think that this can be.”
Christillin will arrive at her first FIFA Council meeting next month as an outsider, saying it will be her first visit to Zurich where the organization is based.
“You don’t have to scream or beat your hands on the table to make yourself heard and understood,” she said. “If you show yourself capable and let’s say, not with authority, but with capability and sometimes with a smile (it) is not difficult.”