The Cyprus Football Association was on the receiving end of intense criticism by members of the Parliament of the Republic of Cyprus, during a meeting of the parliamentary committee on human rights, which took place on Monday 13 January 2020, at the House of Representatives, in Nicosia.
The subject of the meeting was the “unequal treatment of the footballers of the women’s Cyprus national team” and was called by MP’s following the protest of the players of the National team in Finland in November for equal rights of men’s and women’s footballers.
Besides the MP’s and the FA, present at the meeting were the Pancyprian Footballers Union (PASP), the Cyprus Sports Organization (KOA), the Commissioner for gender equality, and footballers of the national team.
The protest done by the players was focused on the daily allowance (and not the salaries), which is severely lesser than that of the men’s national football team. The players also protested the fact that they were given second hand kits of youth men’s teams, no thermal clothing and were banned from exchanging jerseys after the match.
AKEL MP and former interior minister Mrs. Eleni Mavrou said that “the Cyprus FA has proven with their dealing of the issue, that gender bias still goes strong in this countries’ institutions”.
Mrs. Annita Demetriou, MP for DHSY party, asked the representative of the FA Mr. Savvas Constantinou: “How much is the daily allowance today?”. Hearing the answer of 20 euros per day, she replied: “So, just enough for a sandwich and a soda, then?”. Mrs. Demetriou went on to say that: “the amount is lowly and insulting”.
DIKO MP Mrs. Christiana Erotokritou said to the representatives of the FA that: “As a federation, you accept to send athletes abroad with just 75 euros in their pockets? That is wrong”.
Mrs. Irene Charalambidou of AKEL told the FA: “You either send the players in a dignified matter abroad, or come forward and dear to say that ‘we are stopping women’s football”.
Mrs. Skevi Koukouma of AKEL scoffed at the non-showing of the FA president Mr. George Koumas, who was invited by the MP’s to attend the meeting.
The Commissioner on gender equality Mrs. Iosifina Antoniou, confirmed that a form of discrimination existed in the matter and asked for the change of rules: “Why should the allowance for abroad be different between men and women? Is it more expensive for a man to go abroad? This is clearly discrimination”.
The executive president of PASP and FIFPro Division Europe vice president, Mr. Spyros Neofytides, said: “The women footballers are asking nothing more than what they are entitled to by the laws of the European Union and our country. That is to enjoy the exact same rights as their male counterparts. We need to support their struggle. But, unfortunately, we are being witnesses to an effort to shut down their protest, which frankly, surprises us. As far as the excuse for the lack of founding from the FA, I have already presented to this committee facts, that show that the Cyprus FA has received 11,1 million euros from the UEFA HatTrick program and will receive another 6 million dollars from the FIFA Forward program”.
In their closing remarks, the members of the parliamentary committee asked from the FA to move forward with the necessary changes and present them at an upcoming second meeting.