While plans for a European Super League shook the football world over the last few days, women’s football was left in the dark as to how the plans would affect it.
Sources from Merseyside women’s teams indicate that they were not at any point consulted about the ground-breaking plans.
The only guidance offered by initial statements from the ESL was: “As soon as practicable after the start of the men’s competition, a corresponding women’s league will also be launched, helping to advance and develop the women’s game.”
„As soon as practicable after the start of the men‘s competition, a corresponding women’s league will also be launched, helping to advance and develop the women’s game.” pic.twitter.com/kSzlWNB46j
— Eva-Lotta Bohle (@eva_bohle) April 18, 2021
No details on which clubs would be involved were mentioned, but fans were left to assume it would be the women’s teams of the clubs who had signed up to the ESL.
There was one slight problem with this – women’s football is not men’s football. The top teams in the women’s game do not correspond with those of the men’s. Between them, the women’s teams of the clubs involved in the proposed ESL hold just one Champions League title.
Real Madrid’s women’s team are in their debut season, while Manchester United’s is just three years old. Juventus’ female team was formed in 2017. The major players in the women’s game are completely different.
At a time when the women’s Champions League is rapidly developing, finally gaining funding from the men’s equivalent, plans would be ripped up and taken back to square one in a different organisation for the benefit of the major players in the men’s game.
UEFA head of women’s football Nadine Kessler has called the plans “devastating” in an open letter on Twitter, stating: “All the great steps made in recent years, including the hardship of many players gone before for our game to become a profession, will have less chance of becoming a reality.”
— UEFA Women’s Champions League (@UWCL) April 20, 2021
The time frame included in the statement of ‘as soon as practicable after the start of the men’s competition’ is particularly disturbing. Is the women’s game supposed to continue trying to develop while the men find their feet, until the foundations of the women’s game are ripped from the roots?
It appears that the brief mention of the women’s game in the ESL statement was a token gesture, a nod that the plans acknowledge that the women’s game exists. What is lacking from it, is any actual thought behind the plans.
While plans for the ESL in the men’s game appear to be breaking down, women’s football must focus on becoming financially stable independently rather than being used by the elite in their ‘parent clubs’.