Women’s football in the UK has not been played in England for more than 90 days.
Meanwhile, other countries have already charged ahead in recommencing their respective leagues. As an example, the Frauen Bundesliga will become the first major women’s league in the world to restart on Friday, after the German Football Association received the aid of German men’s richest clubs’ solidarity fund for testing for the women’s game.
On the other side, America’s NWSL will host their Challenge Cup in the Salt Lake City area beginning on June 27: A month-long tournament featuring all nine teams will mark the return of professional team sports, men or women’s, in the United States. So, if they can do it… Why the FA couldn’t offer and help the WSL to restart again? Why are they treated differently than the men’s game in the UK?
It’s true that across Europe, some of the top women’s football leagues have been cancelled, including France’s Division 1 Feminine and Spain’s Liga Iberdrola. However, the WSL’s case feels a bit odd in the UK, compared to its fellow European countries.
The FA is facing struggles everywhere and they’re not doing anything to sort all the many doubts they’re creating during this pandemic. Having been 90 days without playing, this could be extended to almost six months if the game cannot return before September; and to add more doubts, the FA has’t even said who will win the league, who will be a representative to next season’s Champions League, neither who will move to the Championship, and vice versa. Clearly, it’s all a mess. And the support shown? Zero.
The last Women’s Super League fixtures took place on February 23rd. The League Cup final followed on February 29th, and then England played their final game, in America for the SheBelieves Cup, on March 11th, while a smattering of Women’s National League matches took place at the beginning of that month. All of that? Nothing; gone.
Sadly, the WSL, which had started as a landmark, triumphant, with record domestic crowds in the modern era, and a major sponsorship deal with Barclays, is now threatening to end with a whimper; all due to FA’s behaviour. Even when the new WSL season is provisionally scheduled to begin in September, the Football Association knows that this is subject to change.
Nothing is for sure until this is totally over, but as for how things are now, the feeling that remains is that the governing body and the Premier League could have done more to ensure the return of women’s football. Simply, it’s dispiriting that the FA nor the Premier League’s richer clubs were not able to organise a testing fund, something that Germany men’s richest clubs did without hesitation. A symbol of equality, something that UK’s football seems to lack of.
The WSL, and all women’s football in the UK, could be at high risk and completely out of the woods, but it seems it’s not a problem for them, as they have shown no interest at all to fix it these years.