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Global Weekly Women’s Soccer Round-Up

A lot went on this week in the women’s football world: England upset the United States and won the 2019 SheBelieves Cup, the Spanish Football Federation plans to introduce a new and improved league format to boos the development of the sport and the United States Women’s National Team (reigning world champs) sued their Federation over gender discrimination.

Organizing Committee (OC) for FIFA Competitions recommends implementation of VAR at Women’s World Cup. The OC met in Zurich today and was updated on the status of preparations for the Women’s World Cup (hereafter referred to as WWC) to be held from June 7 – July 7 in France as well as that of the U-20 World Cup and 2022 World Cup. Following the success of the VAR system at the 2018 World Cup, the FIFA Referees Committee suggested to the OC the inclusion of VAR at the women’s edition. The referees committee organized seminars and a full VAR educational system in recent months to make implementation of the system a reality. It is based on the thorough work done by the referees committee that the OC made this recommendation. A final decision on this will be taken by the FIFA Council at its upcoming meeting in Miami later this month.

England wins SheBelieves Cup. The Three Lionesses put up a commanding performance in their last match in the tournament against a disappointing Japan side to clinch their maiden SheBelieves Cup title. Former Manchester United player Phil Neville’s side beat 2011 WWC winners Japan by 3 unanswered goals courtesy Lucy Staniforth, Karen Carney and Beth Mead in the first half. In their opening match, the Lionesses came from behind to grab the win over Brazil (2-1) and drew with tournament hosts and current WWC holders, USA (2-2). The tournament provided the teams with valuable game time and preparation heading into the WWC which is three months away. The USA finished in second place with a narrow win (1-0) over Brazil, who came in last after failing to win a match, while Japan came in third.

Norway wins Algarve Cup. This year’s edition of the elite invitational tournament hosted by Portugal saw WWC bound Norway clinch their fifth title after beating Poland 3-0. The Norwegians were without their star forward Ada Hegerberg and judging from their performance at this tournament, they won’t miss her much at the WWC. Fellow WWC bound teams Canada, Sweden, Scotland, Spain, Netherlands and China finished third, fourth, fifth, seventh, eleventh and twelfth respectively. Canadian captain Christine Sinclair scored her 179th goal in this tournament and is gradually catching to record holder Abby Wambach’s 184.

Korea DPR wins Cyprus Women’s Cup. The final game of this year’s edition was a drama-filled one as Korea DPR, down to 9 players came from behind to hold Italy to a 3-3 stalemate after extra time and went on to win the game 7-6 on penalties. The Italians will, for the second successive time, have to make do with a second-place finish. This tournament featured four teams headed to the WWC: Italy, Nigeria (7th place), Thailand (8th place) and South Africa (10th place).

Australia wins Cup of Nations. The Matildas won all three of their matches in the inaugural Cup on Nations tournament (played in round-robin format) which they hosted as part of their preparations toward the WWC. Argentina, New Zealand and South Korea, all appearing at the WWC this summer finished in fourth, third and second place respectively.

Spanish Football Fedreration (RFEF) proposes new league. A new league format, based on British, Australian and German models, was approved by the Federation’s board of directors on Tuesday and this will give the sport a makeover. The proposal has to be confirmed at a General Assembly which will be held next month to give way to its implementation next season. The new format includes an Elite Division with a minimum of 8 and maximum of 16 teams and a lower Promise Division having 8 to 20 teams with the prospect of expanding to 32 and will consist of 2 regional groups and a second stage to earn promotion. Clubs that will be competing in this new format would have need of a license from the Federation and would also have to field a minimum number (yet to be specified) of homegrown talent from their academies.

Lucozade Sport moves into sponsorship of women’s football. Lucozade Sport is now the official sports drink and hydration partner of England’s senior women’s national team. The aim of this partnership is to raise the profile of women’s football and inspire a generation of women to get moving as part of the brand’s “Made To Move” campaign.

United States Women’s National Team sues US Soccer over gender discrimination. The 28 current members, of the United States Women’s National Team (USWNT) on Friday (which happened to be International Women’s Day) filed a gender discrimination lawsuit against the United States Soccer Federation (USSF). The team, who are the current world champions, are alleging years of institutionalized gender discrimination and seeking, among other things, equal pay as their male counterparts who failed to qualify for the 2018 World Cup. This wouldn’t be the first time the USWNT and USSF have been in conflict over pay issues. In 2016, five members of the team then – Hope Solo, Carli Lloyd, Becky Sauerbrunn, Alex Morgan and Meghan Rapinoe – filed a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission alleging wage discrimination.

Normalization Committee Special Competition begins. The Ghana Football Association’s Normalization Committee set up a special competition as part of its efforts to revive football in the country after the sport was put on hiatus following a corruption scandal involving the Football Association in June last year. The special competition started on Saturday with three exciting games: Pearl Pia Ladies FC vs. Prisons Ladies FC, Laydtrikers FC vs. Hasaacas Ladies FC and Fabulous Ladies FC vs. Ashtown Ladies FC.  Pearl Pia Ladies FC and Ladystrikers FC emerged winners of their match ups by the same scoreline (2-1) whilst Fabulous Ladies FC and Ashtown Ladies FC shared the points in a goal less draw.

FIFA to hold first ever Global Women’s Football Convention. In celebration of International Women’s Day, FIFA announced that it will be holding a Global Women’s Football Convention ahead of the FIFA Women’s World Cup (7 June – 7 July) in France. The Convention, scheduled for 6-7 June, will bring together leaders from sports and politics to discuss pressing issues regarding the empowerment and development of women in football. It is in line with FIFA’s Women’s Football Strategy which was launched last year. Discussions at the Convention will be centered on the 5 pillars of the Women’s Football Strategy: Develop and Grow, Showcase, Communicate and Commercialize, Govern and Lead and Educate and Empower.

“Equal bonuses for winning Women’s World Cup players” – Adidas. The sport apparel company announced on Friday that it will give its sponsored players who are part of this year’s FIFA Women’s World Cup winners the same performance bonus as their male counterparts.

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