African nations are not doing enough to promote women’s football, according to Meskerem Tadesse Goshime of the Ethiopian Football Federation.
The deputy secretary general’s comments come in the wake of an announcement last week that only 19 of the continent’s 55 members will take part in the 2018 Under-20 World Cup qualifiers.
A total of 24 teams entered the qualification process for the 2012 tournament held in Japan.
Goshime told BBC Africa Sport that the reduction in the number of entries is further proof that the women’s game continues to be neglected across Africa.
She said: “Women’s football has always been and still is not a high concern in some federations.
“In some, it’s the first to suffer when there is a budget problem.”
Each federation must have a women’s football development department
Meskerem Tadesse GoshimeEthiopia Football Federation
Goshime said despite Fifa’s global push to promote women’s football, it remains underfunded and ignored by all-male establishments in Africa.
“There is a lot of focus given to women’s football at Fifa level, but that needs to flow down to every member association.
“Each federation must have a women’s football development department supported financially and through capacity building programs.”
A series of initiatives to promote women’s football have been launched in some countries in recent years but the results have been abysmal.
Junior female football already has deep roots in many parts of the world, especially Asia, Europe and the United States, but Africa is woefully behind.
Very few countries have proper league structures in place – including Zimbabwe, one of the continent’s two representatives at the 2016 Rio Olympics.
“It’s not just federations but Caf is also not taking any measures to ensure that federations focus on women’s football development.”
Caf, indeed, raised questions about their commitment to women’s football when they announced prize money for their respective tournaments last year.
The men’s Africa Cup of Nations winners get $4 million while their female counterparts pick up a paltry $200,000.
Despite the fact that many African nations have not devoted the necessary resources and attention to women’s football at grassroots or senior levels, Goshime remains optimistic about the future but only if “women’s football becomes a priority”.