Lately it seems like the women’s game can’t go one week without a scandal, and we appear to be on the brink of a momentous Women’s World Cup minus some of the game’s brightest talents.
Last Friday, Wendie Renard, Kadidiatou Diani and Marie-Antoinette Katoto all announced that they would be temporarily withdrawing from the France national women's football team.
They have put this down to the “current system far from the requirements of the highest level.” Katoto noted the handling of her injury that took her out of last summer’s UEFA Women’s Euros was one of the key factors in her decision making, while Renard said the decision was taken in order to “preserve my sanity.”
They have received support from many key names in the women’s game, including Alex Morgan, Lucy Bronze and Ada Hegerberg, as well as former France teammate Sarah Bouhaddi.
Like Renard, Diani and Katoto, Bouhaddi made the difficult decision to withdraw from representing the tricolor jersey a few years ago.
In her statement of support, the French keeper cited the “psychologically untenable situation” as her reasoning for withdrawing from the French national team.
One of the biggest concerns for many fans of women’s football is that this year’s FIFA.
Women’s World Cup will have its integrity called into question if some of the game’s biggest names in the women’s game are absent.
Back in October, several players were omitted from the Spanish national team after making their feelings clear on the set up and head coach Jorge Vilda.
In addition, only last week we reported on the crumbling relationship between the Canada’s women’s team and their national federation.
Women’s football is already far enough behind the men’s game. We need the best players at the world’s biggest tournament to attract as many fans as possible.
These aren't just the teams ranked 5th, 6th and 7th in FIFA’s world standings. They are European Semi-Finalists. They are the reigning Olympic Champions. They are the country with the world record attendance for a women’s domestic fixture.
It simply isn’t acceptable for the world’s best players to be withdrawing from what could be the biggest moment of their careers for issues that simply do not exist in the men’s game.
Women’s football has proved it should be taken seriously, it is now time for the federations to treat them with the equality and respect they have earned.