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Women’s soccer gains professional status in Spain

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MADRID — The top two women’s soccer divisions in Spain have gained professional status, the Spanish federation announced Wednesday.

The federation said the country’s sports council has accepted the change in status for the competitions, which will also be valid for men’s and women’s futsal.

[ MORE: El Tri star linked with La Liga ]

The federation said the move is “another step to promote the development” of these competitions that until now were considered “amateur soccer.”

The new status will allow for the creation of professional committees with the participation of all clubs and with autonomy to manage different aspects of the competitions.

The federation said “there will be a series of requirements regarding the professionalism” of players and coaches, and rules will be in place on “minimum” labor conditions that participants must meet regarding budget, contracts and wages.

Women’s Super League, Championship seasons canceled

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This England’s Women’s Super League season will not return from the coronavirus pause, opening a great debate over who will be champions.

The English Football Association made the announcement Monday, also announcing that the second-tier Championship has been canceled.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights ]

The WSL was in a heated title fight, with Man City leading the table on points with 40 but Chelsea’s 39 coming in one fewer match. Arsenal was four points back of City with a match-in-hand.

The top two sides also qualify for the UEFA Women’s Champions League.

From The FA:

Following full and thorough consultation with the clubs, the FA Women’s Super League & Women’s Championship Board has discussed various recommendations which will be sent to the FA Board to determine the most appropriate sporting outcome for the 2019-20 season.

This will include identifying the entries for the 2020-21 UEFA Women’s Champions League, which would be based on sporting merit from the 2019-20 Barclays FA Women’s Super League season.

There’s also relegation to consider, with Liverpool’s women dead last but within a win of two clubs.

Promotion from the Championship would be a little more clearcut, as Aston Villa has a six-point edge on the field.

Could there be a playoff to decide a title winner? Might the FA opt not to name a winner?

Chelsea was unbeaten but there’s certainly no guarantee they’d win out nor would giving City the title make any sense. The Blues took four of six points from City.

Man City, Chelsea, and Arsenal are the three previous title winners.

Eluko: Ex-USWNT boss Ellis the ‘best fit’ for England

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England women national team hero Eniola Aluko says Jill Ellis is the coach best equipped “to bring silverware” to her home nation.

Current England boss Phil Neville’s job has been under scrutiny for some time as the Lionesses have won just three times since reaching the 2019 World Cup semifinals.

Aluko is an England centurion and says she isn’t in for the job despite what the bookies say, and she really likes the idea of the ex-USWNT.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights ] 

Ellis, 53, was born in England and moved to the United States at the age of 15. She led the USWNT to back-to-back World Cups and was named the FIFA Women’s Coach of the Year in both of those years (2015, 2019).

From Sky Sports (video):

“The England women’s team now are at that point where they are getting to semifinals and now need to be getting to a final and winning it, winning World Cups and European championships. The only person in the best position to do that having won back-to-back World Cups, having won Olympics is Jill Ellis. She has that pedigree; She’s worked with some of the best footballers, elite athletes in the world.

“The only problem would be the contract she’s going to command will probably be very, very high and it’s whether the FA are willing to invest that kind of money. I’m talking about commensurate to probably what Gareth Southgate is paid, coming from that sort of equal pay expectation.”

Money may be tight moving forward, but splashing the cash on Ellis would send a strong message to the England side and add loads of drama to the SheBelieves Cup, Olympics and more.

Some American fans thought the USWNT succeeded in spite of Ellis’ management, but two World Cups don’t lie. If Neville’s canned, we’d love to see Ellis get the chance to prove her those critics wrong.

FIFA says support of women’s game will continue

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Soccer’s international governing body says it will maintain funding for women’s soccer despite concerns about the impact of the coronavirus pandemic.

Following the Women’s World Cup last year, FIFA President Gianni Infantino pledged to invest $1 billion in the women’s game over the next four years.

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“In line with the FIFA Women’s Football Strategy and FIFA’s long-term vision for the development of women’s football, this funding will be invested into a range of areas in the women’s game including competitions, capacity building, development programs, governance and leadership, professionalization and technical programs,” FIFA said in a statement provided Tuesday to The Associated Press. “We can confirm that this funding has already been committed by FIFA and will not be impacted by the current COVID-19 crisis.”

The Guardian first reported that FIFA’s funding would not drop because of the coronavirus.

FIFA also said it is assessing the financial impact the pandemic is having on soccer worldwide, including the women’s game, and is exploring possible ways to provide assistance.

“The exact format and details of this assistance are currently being discussed in consultation with FIFA’s member associations, the confederations and other stakeholders,” the organization said.

FIFA has said it sees a duty to offer a lifeline from its cash reserves, last reported at more than $2.7 billion, as the economic consequences of the pandemic ripple across global soccer.

“FIFA is in a strong financial situation and it’s our duty to do the utmost to help them in their hour of need,” the organization said in a statement late last month. “FIFA is working on possibilities to provide assistance to the football community around the world after making a comprehensive assessment of the financial impact this pandemic will have on football.”

Infantino reiterated the pledge in a video message to FIFA’s member associations.

FIFA’s commitment comes after FIFPro, the international players’ union, called for continued financial support of women’s soccer worldwide. The union issued a report saying COVID-19 is “likely to present an almost existential threat to the women’s game if no specific considerations are given to protect the women’s football industry.”

There are early signs the pandemic is already taking a toll on the women’s game, in addition to the cancellation and postponement of league play and tournaments worldwide. In Colombia, Independiente Santa Fe suspended all player contracts for its women’s soccer team recently but said its men’s team would only see pay cuts.

The pandemic struck at a time when women’s soccer was on the upswing, boosted by the success of last year’s World Cup in France.

“We do have concerns about investments in the women’s game being dropped or reduced or precrisis investments being withdrawn, ultimately, from the women’s game. We’re concerned that decision-makers might ignore the needs of women or exclude women’s football from recovering support programs,” said Amanda Vandervort, chief women’s football officer for FIFPro.

FIFPro calls for maintaining support for women’s soccer

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The international players’ union FIFPro is calling for continued financial support of women’s soccer worldwide in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic.

FIFPro issued a report Thursday warning of COVID-19’s impact, saying it is “likely to present an almost existential threat to the women’s game if no specific considerations are given to protect the women’s football industry.”

that the global absence of industry standards and worker protections means women are especially vulnerable and that an economic downturn could affect otherwise stable clubs.

There are signs the pandemic is already taking a toll in addition to the cancellation and postponement of league play and tournaments worldwide. In Colombia, Independiente Santa Fe suspended all player contracts for its women’s soccer team recently but said its men’s team would only see pay cuts.

The pandemic came at a time when women’s soccer was on the upswing, boosted by the success of last year’s World Cup in France.

“We do have concerns about investments in the women’s game being dropped or reduced or pre-crisis investments being withdrawn, ultimately, from the women’s game. We’re concerned that decision-makers might ignore the needs of women or exclude women’s football from recovering support programs,” said Amanda Vandervort, FIFPro chief women’s football officer.

“But we’re here with solutions and to present ideas and innovations, and a new way to approach women’s football for the best interests of the players and the long-term success of our women’s football industry.”

A 2017 FIFPro survey showed most women’s players don’t earn a living wage: 60% of paid players take home less than $600 a month and 37% say they are paid late.

FIFPro laid out five recommendations for the industry: Prioritize player physical and mental care, apply special financial measures for players and clubs, ensure pre-pandemic investments aren’t withdrawn, make sure women are included in any financial relief measures and develop solidarity systems across the women’s game to insure its recovery.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights ] 

“We just thought it was an absolute necessity to highlight, in the course of this crisis management problem, the importance of paying conscious attention to the women’s game because the damage that a crisis like this can have on an industry which has been growing so well but is still very fragile in many places, can be very drastic,” FIFPro general secretary Jonas Baer-Hoffmann said.

The Netherlands-based organization plans to release a larger report later this month on the growth and development of women’s soccer.

“I think what is very clear, and we just have to come to terms with it, is that football, as many other parts of our society, will look very different very soon. And I think there is a fundamental question here whether we want to rebuild based on the initial short-term commercial views of the game only, or whether we want to start building it around a set of values that can actually sustain and bring out the best parts of what we are involved in, in the long term,” Baer-Hoffmann said.