By Christian Radnedge
LONDON (Reuters) - Europe's biggest soccer clubs have approved plans aimed at increasing gender diversity in the game across the continent, their umbrella organisation said on Monday.
The European Club Association (ECA), representing more than 200 of the continent's clubs including the likes of Real Madrid, Manchester United and Bayern Munich, said women were significantly underrepresented and its executive board had backed the creation of a strategy to tackle the issue.
The plans would be presented for approval at the body's next general assembly in March.
"As clubs, the foundation of the game, we believe that fresh and diverse voices are key to shaping the future of the professional game," ECA board member and former Arsenal chief executive Ivan Gazidis said in a statement.
"With this in mind, ECA will begin to focus on identifying measures to increase women's involvement within our association and club football as a whole," Gazidis said.
Earlier this month, global soccer body FIFA set out a women's football strategy which included a pledge to have women make up one third of its executive committee by 2022.
However, an ECA spokesman said in an email there were no plans to make European clubs introduce female quotas at board level. He also declined to give more details about the strategy, adding it was in the early stages of development.
(Reporting by Christian Radnedge; Editing by David Holmes)