Female footballers in the Middle East and the mental health of footballers
Although women’s football has long been neglected in the Middle East, sometimes the active promotion of the authorities combined with the enthusiasm of female players helps to overcome conservative prejudices and lack of funds. Jordan, for example, has one of the most successful national teams in the region and a network of youth and school leagues. In Saudi Arabia, the women’s Premier League has just been launched and the national team has played internationally for the first time. In Asia and Africa, the Women’s Club World Cup has been organised in recent years.
The most important football project in the world – in existence since 2019 – has just resumed. Football For Schools, put on hold for the pandemic. The aim is to organise a training programme via a phone application for almost half of the world’s children between the ages of four and fourteen and to provide footballs to 700 million primary school children, mostly in the poorest and most remote regions of the world. India alone needs one million balls in 10,000 schools.
The Professional Footballers’ Association of Great Britain (PFA) has reported a 50 per cent increase in the number of footballers interested in mental health support in 2019 compared to 2018. In 2021/2022, 22% of Premier League, EFL and Women’s Super League players reported experiencing severe anxiety in the 30 days prior to the survey. The most common problems include depression, eating disorders, panic attacks and gambling addiction. These are often due to the pressures felt and the demands of a hyper-masculine culture.