The FIFA Council Meeting on June 10, 2018 will make a call on the development of a women's global league starting in 2019.
The latest news brewing in the women's soccer world arises from Thursday's FIFA meeting hosted in Bogota, Colombia. As reported by the New York Times, FIFA President Gianni Infantino proposes to seek approval from his executive council to launch a women's global league. Although no decision to be made until at least June, the plan demonstrates Infantino's commitment to promoting the growth of women's football.
“In my personal experience on the Colombian Women's National Team, when the World Cup and the Olympic cycle would end, we would have to wait an absurd amount of time to have camp or training again. 745 days to be exact.”
If accepted, the competition would feature the world's top 16 women's national teams which would divide into four groups with winners advancing to the semifinal and final during the November 2019 window. Additionally, Infantino intends to create four small regional leagues to compete in a promotion and relegation system during the Spring window.
FIFA is presently basing women's football development and financial growth opportunities on solely two quadrennial tournaments - the FIFA Women's World Cup and the Olympics. For obvious reasons, women's football is highly funded from men's competitions. With the addition of the league, the women's game would not only gain fan support and potential sponsorships but would also stem the development of youth women's football in smaller countries.
Unless you are a top 5 women's footballing nation, there are not many opportunities to represent your country, let alone gain experience playing FIFA matches in general. Unfortunately, there are still too many federations that set aside national women's soccer camps and friendlies. In my personal experience on the Colombian Women's National Team, when the World Cup and the Olympic cycle would end, we would have to wait an absurd amount of time to have camp again. 745 days to be exact. With a global women's league, lengthy absences from FIFA matches could no longer be an issue for football countries still in development. It would be beneficial for both North and South American countries as their leagues mostly run from early Spring to Summer. On the flip side, UEFA and perhaps Australia's W-League most likely would not support this concept as it does not coincide with their schedules. If this event is not in the best interest of UEFA or AFC, confederations in approval could join forces and formulate a similar competition.
Although there has not yet been a strategic plan set out, it will be interesting to see the responses from FIFA members and federations. There already have been concerns that a FIFA-branded women's league could take away from the prestige and excitement of the World cup and Olympics. On the contrary, I firmly believe it would enhance the build-up as there would be more teams involved in competition outside of the two marquee FIFA tournaments. Presently, the two leading mini-tournaments are the Algarve Cup and She Believes Cup, both primarily intended for the top women's national teams. Not only would the new event provide player exposure, but would also give federations and countries the opportunity to host a FIFA event.
Up for next year's reelection, Infantino will need the majority votes from the 211 member nations. Part of his campaign will highly demand the growth of the women's game which could either play in favor or against reelection. Since in office, Infantino has significantly emphasized the necessity and potential growth of women's football.