The European Club Association chief executive, Charlie Marshall, has talked up the prospect of a women’s Club World Cup starting “fairly soon” as the clubs’ body launches its first women’s football strategy.
The ECA has been working in women’s club football for some time but this is the first time the organisation has built a comprehensive plan for its involvement. The ECA’s “Be a Changemaker” strategy commits the organisation to helping accelerate professionalism, advance the economic development of the women’s game, identify new commercial opportunities, facilitate the creation of new clubs and produce “first of its kind” research studies through a high-performance taskforce to plug the research gap in women’s sport.
One idea the ECA is keen to pursue is a global tournament such as the annual Club World Cup that has taken place in the men’s game for more than two decades, with the winners of major intercontinental competitions playing each other in a knockout format. Bayern Munich are the holders.
The ECA believes a women’s version is not only possible but something that can be organised promptly and will help make the women’s game more equal and competitive. “You have the ability to develop a global club game much more quickly than in the men’s side, where I think Fifa’s ambition on the Club World Cup is probably a 50-year ambition to try to even out that competitive balance, and is a really tough one at that,” said Marshall.
“In the women’s game there is much more potential, much more quickly, to develop global competitive balance. The prospect of a Club World Cup, fairly soon in the women’s game, assuming that calendars can be resolved and all of that kind of thing, is a really, really exciting one and I know Fifa is very, very keen on it as well.”
Marshall’s thoughts have been echoed by the ECA’s new head of women’s football, Claire Bloomfield. “There’s real excitement for this right throughout the women’s football community,” she said.
“We have a responsibility to explore all of the possible opportunities that can help grow the competition landscape, both on a European level with perhaps a second-tier competition and then on a much more global scale, with a possible Club World Cup. It’s difficult to determine exactly how quickly that would be in place. There are lots of things to consider, but we’re very committed to tabling a very detailed proposition.”
On the ECA’s broader strategy, Marshall said: “Full-scale gender equality in football is an ambitious goal but one we embrace. 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 change makers needed to enable the women’s game to grow sustainably, to thrive and ultimately to prosper.”
The Lyon president, Jean-Michel Aulas, an ECA executive board member and chair of the ECA’s women’s football committee, said: “I have been in the game long enough to fully understand the inequalities that exist and my ability to do something about it. I’m therefore proud as the chair of ECA’s Women’s Football Committee to support the implementation of ECA’s bold new initiatives.
“I am confident that women’s club football in Europe can surpass all of our expectations.”