SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA - JUNE 25: (L-R) Ella Tonkin, Naomi Chinnama, Rhiannon Martin Head of FIFA Women's World Cup, Amy Duggan Matildas Alumni and Beyond Greatness Champion, Johanna Wood FIFA Council Member NZ Football, James Johnson CEO Football Australia, Sarah Walsh Head of Women’s Football at Football Australia, Maia Jackman Football Ferns Alumni, Julie Dolan Matildas Alumni, Bruce ‘Hoppo’ Hopkins Beyond Greatness Champion, Bryleeh Henry, Sarah Hunter and Joy Fawcett FIFA Legend pose during the FIFA Women's World Cup 2023 Sydney Harbour Bridge Unity Celebration on June 25, 2023 in Sydney, Australia. (Photo by Mark Metcalfe - FIFA/FIFA via Getty Images)

FIFAWWC Countdown: Day 52 - News Update

On Day 52 of our 70-Day Edge of the Crowd countdown to the much-anticipated FIFA Women’s World Cup, we’re taking a look at the biggest headlines making the news currently. Having now entered the month of the tournament beginning, we aim to quench your thirst for knowledge by sharing the most significant news headlines surrounding this eminent global tournament.

Canada and Jamaica fueding with national federations

With just over three weeks ago from the tournament beginning, the Canadian and Jamaican national women's teams are in bitter disputes with their national federations surrounding all manner of things relating to pay, conditions, resources, and more.

With Canada, the seventh-ranked FIFA Women's nation, internal problems came to the forefront earlier in the week with body's interim General Secretary, Jason deVos, stating that Canada Soccer had looked into considering filing for bankrupcy.

The women's national team, who are the reigning Olympic Games gold medallists after winning in Tokyo less than two years ago, went on strike earlier this year over pay equity issues and budget cuts in February ahead of the SheBelieves Cup, but returned after the association had threatened legal action.

With a new collective bargaining agreement unable to yet be struck for both the men's and women's programs (which has already forced the men's team into abandoning two friendlies), captain Christine Sinclair was adamant that a deal could be struck before the tournament, with DeVos presenting a "best and final" offer of compensation to its national teams, and is awaiting a response.

Jamaica is the other FIFA Women's World Cup nation at an impasse with its national federation, with the players feeling there was no other choice but to come out and speak to the struggles they're facing with the Jamaican Football Federation (JFF).

Players took to social media, putting out a joint statement where the crux of the issue lay in the funding, mainly to ensure proper planning and sufficient support staff for the team.

The JFF responded to the aforementioned statement, saying "We acknowledge that things have not been done perfectly, and we are working assiduously to resolve them". The general reaction from the JFF appears to suggest the concerns have come out of the blue, whereas the issues raised by the players have been chronic.

With the team at odds with the JFF and feeling like an afterthought with no indication of an agreement being reached, a crowdfunding campaign was set up by Sandra Brower - Havana Solaun's mother - to help cover the costs of further Women's World Cup expenses for the Reggae Girlz's staff and players.

A target of USD $100,000 was set, with the amount raised so far sitting at just shy of USD $44,100. The Reggae Girlz Foundation is also running its own campaign to raise money with more than $45,000 raised (from a $75,000 target) so far to help with the team's pre-tournament preparation camp, which would include venue costs, facility rentals, all the way to player's meals.

Overall, while there is worry and concern with things playing out behind-the-scenes and the general state of play, for Canada and Jamaica, these issues could cause a huge distraction just weeks out of the Women's World Cup in which they should be preparing for, focusing on the tournament ahead, without any unneccessary problems hanging overhead.

FIFPRO report outlines unevenness of pathway to Women's World Cup

A report released by Fédération Internationale des Associations de Footballeurs Professionnels (FIFPRO) outlined the disparity in standards and conditions for qualifying teams for the FIFA Women's World Cup. The survey included 362 players from the 2022 qualifying tournament from the six confederations.

Of the players surveyed by the global players' union, the report showed 29 per cent of players have not been paid for taking part in qualifying tournaments, and where players were paid, it was often based on their performance in the match.

Only 40 per cent of players considered themselves professional athletes according to the report that also noted 66 per cent of players said they had to take unpaid leave or vacation days to play in qualifying events. Nearly all of the players surveyed (93 per cent) believed they weren't paid enough.

In its report, FIFPRO mentioned that by highlighting these conditions, the status of players across the globe, and the qualification processes, it's "so we all can commit to meaningful changes that look at the overall opportunities the FIFA Women's World Cup can deliver to a greater number of players than those that just appear at the final tournament in July and August this year".

Also outlined in the report was a lack of safeguards for athletes, with 54 per cent reporting they hadn't had a medical examination prior to qualification, where 33 per cent were concerned there was not sufficient time for recovery in between games. A majority indicated gym and recovery facilities were subpar or did not exist, with 32 per cent also going so far as to saying stadiums and fields were not up to standard.

Overall, the report underscored the disparity in women's football globally, urging the confederations to adopt a qualifying standard and structure with a standalone process for the Women's World Cup so it could pave the way for more opportunities for women to play the game.

"The World Cup is the pinnacle of national team football but the pathways to the tournament define the players' conditions over a very long period. Therefore, ensuring the best possible conditions here is vital. We are prepared to work with FIFA and confederations to improve conditions for World Cup qualification and address the current inequities and fragmentation", FIFPRO General Secretary, Jonas Baer-Hoffman, said.

OneLove banned as alternative captain's armband options presented

The source of some controversy at the FIFA Men's World Cup last November in Qatar, the governing body has elected to stand firm in its stance of not allowing the OneLove captain's armbands - which promotes diversity and inclusion - to be worn while stressing the need for "respecting global differences" in other nations.

Instead, an all-encompassing 'Unite for Inclusion' armband is the re-designed and modified OneLove armband - with the same colours used and a similar heart shape - which was designed with consultation between each participating nation and the United Nations.

It's one of eight altenative armbands FIFA has opted to give captains of each of the 32 nations the choice to wear, with the other themes including: Indigenous peoples, gender equality, education for all, ending violence against women, peace, and zero hunger.

Captains will be able to choose which of the eight options they want to wear in Australia and New Zealand, with players also given the choice of wearing a different armband in each fixture, or picking one to wear throughout the entire duration of the tournament.

Edge of the Crowd partners with Her Game Too for the Women's World Cup, uniting our passion for diversity and inclusivity in sports. Together, we aim to dismantle barriers, tackle sexism, and amplify women's voices in the sporting realm. Join us in celebrating the spirit of the beautiful game, free of gender constraints. The love for the game knows no gender; let's make every game, Her Game Too. Head to @HerGameToo on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram to learn more.

Referees to explain in-game VAR decisions live

In a first for a tier one FIFA tournament, referees at the FIFA Women's World Cup will explain VAR-influenced decisions live to stadium crowds and television audiences via the venue's loudspeaker, broadcasting in a similar vein to what is done in the NHL and NFL.

The method of engagement will see referees speaking about incidents in which VAR intervenes to overturn decisions, whether it be citing the awarding of a potential red card, penalty, or ruling a goal out due to offside or foul play.

In February, Chairman of FIFA's Referee Committee, said "We decided to have this trial because we received some requests to make the decision taken by the referee after a VAR intervention more understandable for all the football stakeholders, namely the spectators at the stadium, or in front of the television".

Embed from Getty Images

This process has been used at FIFA events before, including the FIFA Club World Cup and Under-20 World Cup, as part of a 12-month trial announced by the International Football Association Board (IFAB) in January this year, following up on recommendations made in October 2022.

Washington, D.C. bars to stay open

In a win for fans of the USWNT, a proposal for around-the-clock hours for bars and restaurants during the FIFA Women's World Cup was granted by Washington, D.C. City Council, unanimously approved by the 13-person Council.

Bars and restaurants in the nation's capital wishing to extend their opening hours would have to pay a $100 fee, but would then be permitted to serve alcohol for 22 hours, where the exception will be between the hours of 4am and 6am.

With a time difference of 14 to 16 hours, this decision would allow patrons of the city to watch the USA in its quest for a three-peat, including the team's match against Portugal which is scheduled to kick off at 3am for the east coast.

"This event takes place every four years and is a Super Bowl-type sporting event for soccer fans. Local soccer fans are expected to watch the 2023 Women's World Cup tournament regardless of the hour," Councilman Kenyan McDuffie said.

England v Portugal: Friendly Preview

Two FIFA Women's World Cup nations go head-to-head tonight in a friendly ahead of the tournament. England and Portugal will do battle at Stadium MK from 12:15am AEST (Sunday, July 2) as the pre-tournament fixtures continue ahead of each team's respective kick-off date.

England will go into this pre-World Cup friendly without some of its best players, though Georgia Stanway will earn her 50th national team cap, while Rachel Daly will get a chance up front after showcasing her skills in the NSWL with Aston Villa.

Portugal will look to try and set up formations and gamestyle that will be reflected come its proper tournament against fellow heavyweights of women's football, the USA and Netherlands.

To get the full experience of Edge of the Crowd's 70-Day Countdown to the FIFA Women's World Cup this July, don't forget to like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Also don't forget to listen to the Australian World Cup Podcast on Spotify and Apple Podcasts. New episode out now!