Neville calls for better preparations; women’s football is booming and Belgium cancel controversial World Cup song

WSL1 News

The latest news from women’s football in the UK and around the rest of the world over the last week.

England Ladies were unfortunate to miss out on securing the SheBelieves Cup in their final game of the tournament, following a 1-0 loss to the USA on Thursday morning. Their opponents went on to lift the trophy, with France and Germany finishing in third and fourth place behind the Lionesses.

Phil Neville has revealed that his team had travelled in economy class seats throughout the tournament, despite Gareth Southgate’s men’s team travelling in either business or first-class on their journeys. The new England women’s boss was disappointed with the travel arrangements and has said that he will have a discussion with the FA about improving preparations in the future.

Speaking after the defeat to the USA, Neville said: “We need to give ourselves the best opportunity to do well. I quite enjoyed the flight over here, I’d nine hours with the team and it was great bonding. It’s not my top priority [flying business class]. You always want better, but that’s not No 1 on my list.

“The USA gave themselves the best opportunity they could to win a home tournament, but there are things we could do differently. We were made to travel through three or four different cities just to get here and I had one training session with the team before the first game, after a nine-hour flight.

“There are things we can control as well. Why was Chelsea playing Manchester City on the day we met up as a squad? I had five players withdraw before we left England. We had a full fixture list too, but we are able to change that because we [the FA] are in charge of the league. I need seven days with the team before a tournament if we are going to win it. I’ve got to fight on behalf of my players to make sure they get the best.”

Keeping with England, as Lucy Bronze was named in the women’s world XI last week. Bronze, who now plies her tried with Lyon, is the first Lioness to be included in the annual Fifpro world XI team. The right-back was selected after over 4,100 fellow women’s players from across 45 countries, were asked to vote for their best XI.

Meanwhile, on the eve of International Women’s Day, the FA announced that figures have shown that there has been a “massive shift” in the number of women and girls participating in football in recent years. The governing body said that 1.7m females aged five and over now take part every month and that the numbers are continuing to rise.

FA participation and development director Kelly Simmons, said: “I think it is important to show the progress that we’ve made. The women’s game has made huge progress. I think it is also really important to use the opportunity to talk about the challenges that we’ve still got to fix as well as to talk about the huge change in opportunities there have been for girls and women to play the game.”

Simmons expressed that she believes progress has been made in addressing gender equality in the game but she did, however, also suggest that there is still a long, long way to go.

In yet more positive news, the number of fans who attend elite women’s sporting events in the UK may be set to break the half a million mark for the first time in 2018, according to new research. Sports marketing agency, Two Circles, has revealed that, since 2013, attendances for UK women’s sports have grown 38 percent year-on-year, on average.

The agency predicts that the number of fans that watch women’s sport will further increase by 49 percent on 2017’s figures and hit 682,000 this year. They have put this growth down to the ever-increasing media coverage which is drawing awareness to women’s sport.

It was an exciting week for the Confederation of African Football (CAF), as it held it’s first ever Women’s Symposium (a conference) last week. Those who attended hailed the historic two-day event as a big step in the development of the women’s game.

During the event in Morocco, there was a presentation of the recommendations put forward to CAF by seven working groups: Competitions, Technical, Marketing, Media, Governance, Development and Stakeholders.

The CAF president, Ahmad, said in his closing speech that he was happy and satisfied with the outcome of the symposium, as it exceeded all expectations. Furthermore, he promised that all of the recommendations would be reviewed and analysed, with the hope that they can break all of the taboos in order to promote the women’s game in Africa.

Elsewhere, the Belgium FA has announced that they will now not be recording a World Cup song ahead of the tournament in Russia, after an outcry from several women’s groups. The FA and rapper, Damso, had announced their collaboration in November, which was set to feature national team stars Eden Hazard and Michy Batshuayi.

The calls for the song to be halted came because the rapper, whose real name is William Kalubi, has previously released songs that have been deemed to contain lyrics that are degrading towards women. The FA has since taken full responsibility and has said that they will certainly learn the necessary lessons for the future.

About the Author

James Murray
I am a second-year journalism student at London South Bank University. I am a huge football fan and love to analyse, write and talk about various aspects of the beautiful game.