FIFA, the international governing body of football, has expressed its “great concern” about photographs of the Congolese Under-20 women’s national team that have lately surfaced on social media.
Before an Under-20 World Cup qualifier, the global soccer players’ organization FIFPRO leaked video footage that appeared to show a squad exercising in the street.
The video, which FIFPRO released on its official Twitter page on Thursday, shows the team doing a passing exercise on a gravel road with vehicles and motorcycles going by, according to FIFPRO. The exercise is interrupted at one point as a yellow van speeds down the road between the players.
“Player welfare is a major concern for FIFA, and we’ve taken urgent action with local authorities, notably FECOFA [the Congolese Federation of Football Association], to ensure the safety and wellbeing of all players participating,” FIFA stated in a statement to CNN.
FECOFA, according to the players’ union FIFPRO, did not reserve enough pitch time for the squad’s 2022 World Cup qualifier against Cameroon on September 25, which the team lost 4-0 at home.
The women are then shown sleeping outside in their tracksuits in a video provided by FIFPRO. According to FIFPRO, they were thrown out of their hotel on October 12 because the Congolese FA did not pay for it.
FIFPRO commented at the end of the video, which it said was shot by a member of the public, “This is unacceptable.”
The treatment of female players in Africa, particularly in terms of economics, has long been a source of contention on the continent.
Multiple attempts for response from news organizations over the last few days have gone unanswered by the Congolese FA (FECOFA). The video’s contents could not be verified by news organizations.
“The players’ union in Congo is in contact with them. They are OK and have returned to their homes, notwithstanding their dissatisfaction with the national federation’s handling of them “In a message to news agencies, FIFPRO stated.
“The union has also submitted an official letter of protest to the Congolese FA regarding their treatment,” according to the statement.
When asked for comment, the Confederation of African Football (CAF) referred CNN to FECOFA and FIFA, the international governing body of football.
After being postponed till 2020, the women’s Under-20 World Cup is set to take place in Costa Rica next year.
After losing 5-0 against Cameroon in the return match, the latter will now face Nigeria in the following round.