The European Club Association (ECA), whose members include all of Europe’s biggest clubs, has launched a ‘Be a Changemaker’ strategy for the women’s game; A women’s second-tier European competition and Club World Cup tournament are among the proposals
A Europa League-style tournament is among the proposals in the European Club Association’s (ECA) first women’s football strategy, which was released on Monday.
The Women’s Champions League is currently the only European club competition in women’s football.
The men will contest three competitions from next season; the Champions League, the Europa League and the inaugural Europa Conference League.
The ECA, whose members include all of Europe’s biggest clubs, has launched a ‘Be a Changemaker’ strategy for the women’s game.
The plan is committed to “driving sustainability within the game, identifying new commercial opportunities and creating new women’s football clubs across Europe”, the ECA said.
The ECA’s new head of women’s football Claire Bloomfield said: “We have a responsibility to explore all opportunities that can help grow the competition landscape, both on a European level with a second-tier competition and then on a much more global scale, with a possible Club World Cup.”
From next season three English teams will qualify for the Champions League in a new format which will feature a group stage and a round of 16 for the first time.
ECA chief executive Charlie Marshall said a women’s Club World Cup would also be set up “fairly soon” with the ECA seeing the tournament as part of its strategy to help develop women’s football.
The men’s Club World Cup has been running since 2000, with winners of major intercontinental competitions playing each other in a knockout format. Bayern Munich are the defending champions.
“The prospect of a Club World Cup, fairly soon in the women’s game, assuming that calendars can be resolved, is a really exciting one and I know FIFA is very keen on it as well,” Marshall told reporters.
“In the women’s game, there is much more potential, much more quickly, to develop global competitive balance.”
The ECA say their vision is to create a far-reaching, robust and influential women’s club football ecosystem that shows a clear path towards achieving the same level of professionalisation as in the men’s game.
Be a Changemaker strategic goals
- Enhance club player pathways to provide a prosperous and sustainable future for the game
- Accelerate professionalisation, empowering clubs to reach, maintain and exceed improved minimum standards
- Advance the economic development of women’s football and identify new commercial opportunities
- Boost the opportunities for clubs to realise European ambitions through the development of the competition landscape
- Facilitate the successful creation of new women’s football clubs across Europe
- Produce ‘first of its kind’ research studies that become a reference point for the women’s game globally
“Our mission is to drive, innovate and advocate a professional and sustainable future for women’s club football whilst protecting its integrity in moments of challenge and change,” the ECA added.
“Full scale gender equality in football is an ambitious goal but one we embrace,” said Marshall.
“Clubs have the opportunity to drive this. They have much more in common with each other off-the-field than they have rivalries on the pitch, and understand the needs, challenges and solutions better than anyone.
“That’s why we must work as a collective, from top to bottom, to be the changemakers needed to enable the women’s game to grow sustainably, to thrive and ultimately to prosper.”
Chelsea head coach Emma Hayes hopes the ECA’s new strategy can help bridge the gap between the men’s and women’s game.
She said: “Our success on the pitch can be helped by winning off the pitch and ECA’s bold new plans can drive an even higher performance culture throughout the women’s game.
“The standards in elite women’s football should not be any different from the men’s and this strategy has the potential to start closing the gap.”