FIFA ExCo exploring idea of Women’s Club World Cup

Jeff Kassouf October 4, 2013 23

Wolfsburg upset Lyon 1-0 in the 2013 UEFA Women's Champions League final. Will they soon have a chance at a Women's Club World Cup? (Photo copyright Domenic Aquilina)

A Women’s Club World Cup might be closer than anyone thought.

To be sure, there’s still a long way to go until that comes to be, but Friday’s news brings progress seemingly out of the blue. FIFA’s Executive Committee was informed of the Task Force for Women’s Football’s proposal to explore the idea of a Women’s Club World Cup.

I’ll be the first to admit that as much as this was near the top of the list of things that I wanted but didn’t expect to see, I didn’t think this idea would see the light of day anytime soon. And there’s nothing to say that the idea is anywhere close as this is noted as being a proposal, but the prospect alone of a FIFA Women’s Club World Cup is enticing.

There was already a moment of history for the FIFA Executive Committee, as three women – Lydia Nsekera (Burundi) and co-opted members Moya Dodd (Australia) and Sonia Bien-Aime (Turks and Caicos Islands) – took part in a FIFA Executive Committee meeting.

There are plenty of logistical obstacles with a Women’s Club World Cup competition, of course, as women’s football clubs around the world struggle to make ends meet. There are the basics: Where and when will the competition be held, how many teams will participate, what sort of prize money guarantees would there be and so forth.

Adding to that is the very issue of likely needing to add sub-competitions for objective qualification (as opposed to just selecting teams/leagues), which adds to the travel and and financial burdens of teams.

Europe has a Champions League, won last year by VfL Wolfsburg, who upset Lyon in the final. South America held a Copa Libertadores Femenina, won by Chile’s Colo Colo. But what about North America? Does the NWSL champion earn the automatic berth? It would be nice to see the U.S. league’s champion — Portland Thorns FC in this inaugural season — have to fight the elements of being on the road in CONCACAF, but it isn’t realistic to think such a tournament could be executed.

And what about Africa, Asia and Oceania? How would those slots be determined?

Fans got a small taste of what a competition like this might look like last November, when the Mobcast Cup International Women’s Club Championship took place in Japan. Japan’s powerhouse INAC Kobe Leonessa finished runners-up to then European champion Lyon, while NTV Beleza of Japan beat Australia’s Canberra United in the third place match.

The Mobcast Cup will once again take place in Japan this November and December, with reports that European champions Wolfsburg, Australian champions Sydney FC and South American champions Colo Colo will participate alongside Japan’s league and cup winners. So, in essence…that’s a lot like a test-run of a Women’s Club World Cup as it is, should all of those teams remain committed.

It would also seem that Japan’s staging of this Mobcast Cup competition would make the country a natural place to test out a proper Women’s Club World Cup, although UEFA’s idea of staging the Women’s Champions League final in the same city and in the same week as the men’s final has proven successful. Japan hosted six of the last eight men’s Club World Cups, but Morrocco will host the tournament this December.

  • Steglitz49

    It is noteworthy what a catalyst Japan has been for the game, not just the ladies game but also for the men. Is the simple reason also the obvious one of them getting a chance to see the world’s best players play in Japan.

  • kirt

    “”although UEFA’s idea of staging the Women’s Champions League final in the same city and in the same week as the men’s final has proven successfu.””

    you joke ?

    first: fifa is not football, it’s just a federation. clubs don’t need fifa’s agreement to compet a world cup. mobcast cup is suffisant , and if nord america clubs don’t want participate then too bad for them.

    the more important things to chance this days is the champions’s league formule, because certains strong clubs can’t participate and others very weak can.

    • Steglitz49

      FIFA, for better or worse, is the governing body of football, a bit like the MCC and cricket. For example, they brought in the windows so that clubs released their players for national team duty.

      As regards the ladies’ Champions League, it is important that teams from weak countries get a chance to compete, just like FIFA made slots available to African countries 40 years ago for men’s teams and do for the ladies’ these days. One criticism of the men’s CL is that UEFA marched too loyally to the drumbeat of big capital and neglected the equity principle. One gets the impression that they try to avoid that trap for the ladies.

      The Mobcast cup seems a great idea. Hopefully it will establish itself and become a feature in the calendar, and if FIFA wants to give it a higher status and find other sponsors, why not?

    • Ben

      Hopefully no one on the organizing committee have this attitude. North American teams don’t choose not to participate in the Mobcast because to don’t rate it or anything of the sort. It’s a logistical nightmare to keep a team together and fit three months after they are done playing just to play in 2 or 3 games. The cost-benefit ratio don’t add up.

      As to why the World cup would help other teams, some federations unlike UEFA have only 1 or 2 professional leagues. Take CONCACAF for example, the leading nations are USA, Canada and Mexico. All their top players play in NWSL or some US based league. Creating a CONCACAF CL makes absolutely no sense, might as well just call it the American cup. Even if that were to happen, it will have absolutely no impact on the current exposure of the game in the US. However, by competing with teams from other international leagues, you bring that extra nationalistic element into play. There is nothing a US soccer fan loves more than cheering for their players against those big bad European

    • STT

      Whoever said an NWSL club declined invitation? We can’t assume an NWSL club was invited in the first place.

      Also, I don’t see any joke.

  • kernel_thai

    Well organizing it is a tough nut as there r no uniform league seasons. The reason, one supposes, that the NWSL wasnt added to the fiekd this year is their season is over three months before Mobcast. The expense of reassembling and training a team just for Mobcast outweighs the prize. If the date were moved to a more NWSL friendly date, u would likely miss the Australian W-League season by just as much. I would suggest holding it in September…just after the NWSL and just before W-League and pretty much in season for everyone else.

  • CharonPDX

    The big question is: Which team would NWSL players choose to play with? Many of the top NWSL players do double-duty with European teams during the NWSL’s off-season. Notably both Tobin Heath and Allie Long, on PSG and Thorns. Rapinoe on Lyon and Reign, etc.

    • Lorehead

      Interesting, and moot at the moment, since no woman currently is on the roster of two championship teams. Presumably this would be negotiated in her contracts.

    • Wear Nikes Drink Gatorade

      For this to be an issue under the current Club World Cup structure, two things would have to happen:
      1.) Portland would have to be named as the CONCAF representative (unless the U.S. hosts it). How this would happen is unknown.
      2.) PSG or Lyon would have to win the UEFA Champions League (they wouldn’t both be going, baring France hosting it).

      • CharonPDX

        Correct, it is not going to happen if a WCWC happens this year, even if Portland is selected the CONCACAF champ, since neither Lyon nor PSG won the UEFA. I’m wondering about next year, or the year after, etc, etc.

        • Steglitz49

          This year we will get the 2nd Mobcast cup. then we shall see. The Mobcast is a bit like the Algarve Cup, something that developed organically from the Swedish ladies’ winter-training camp. If FIFA are smart, they will let the Mobcast do likewise.

        • kernel_thai

          Im guessing they play for the team they r currently under contract with or on loan to.

  • Lorehead

    If I may, Portland, Oregon would be a good host. Quite a few people come to the Thorns’ home games.

    As for getting the team back together, I don’t know exactly what the off-season plans are, but only Tobin Heath is a Persephone, and she is injured anyway, so I don’t think there are any major conflicts.

    • kernel_thai

      I believe the Canadian team is in residency. There is speculation that NWSL champion was invited to Mobcast but declined. Now whether Portland declined, the league declined or the speculation is wrong, putting the team back in training to get them match fit for the end of November would be difficult and expensive

      • STT

        Speculation by who? No-one with even indirect inside track information has ever made comment as to why NWSL isn’t in this year’s Mobcast. The only people talking about it are everyday forum members on BigSoccer and WomenSoccerUnited, all of whom seem to just assume an NWSL rep was invited, ergo the only reason they’re not in the tournament must be that they declined. No-one has any proof, even circumstantial, that an NWSL team was invited in the first place.

        • CharonPDX

          The fact that the NWSL was thrown together so quickly probably has something to do with it. Many of the best NWSL players were under contract to foreign teams whose seasons runs opposite NWSL. I know Portland had one of its stars arrive part way into the season, then depart the country the day after the season ended.

          With a less-than-full-strength team available due to players’ other obligations, it wouldn’t surprise me if either the league or the team declined to participate. (If invited in the first place.)

        • kernel_thai

          Hence the speculation. If there were some official confirmation it wouldnt be speculation. Why do some people such as myself believe a sixth team was asked but declined? Because there is no good reason to expand to five but not six. The cost is the same, virtually, and the benefits r greater. If all they wanted to do was bring in the Copa Champion they could have just dropped the Japanese cup winner and used the same format as last year. If they believed Mobcast needs two Japanese teams to guarantee attendance then they r wasting their time to begin with. As i recall this info appeared in mid August meaning there was no NWSL champion at that point. So yea it’s just speculation but take it for what it’s worth. Last year Mobcast was simply AFC vs UEFA. It’s not a big leap that they wanted both North and South American representation to make it a world wide event.

      • necron99

        Well the owner of the Thorns is very wealthy. With the ticket sales numbers that the Thorns had and the budgets needed to run an NWSL team with the salary cap, they should have plenty of money for travel and training time for the team. Perhaps the League would not let them spend money beyond the salary cap for the players to train/play 3 weeks for this tournament, and they didn’t think they could get the players to do it for free. (And more of the players couldn’t afford to do it for free)

    • Steglitz49

      At this stage I would leave it to the Japanese to establish the competition. It could become the equivalent of the Algarve cup for ladies’ club teams. Organic growth is often to be preferred to dictation by a central committee.

      Last year, in spite of a tight schedule Lyon brought their top squad, though there had been speculation that they would send the B-team. One assumes that the She-wolves will do the same.

  • Joshua

    Why not? If Little League Baseball can stage a “World Series” every year that is a REAL World Series with teams from all over the world (and not that misnamed USA Professional MLB Championship Series) why can’t Women’s Soccer do the same?

    Just do it, and stop arguing and nitpicking over the details so much. So what if it isn’t perfect and so-and-so can’t come for this reason and so-and-so won’t show up for that reason and so-and-so wasn’t invited…

    The big problem I see with FIFA is that it is organized for the MEN’s game. The women’s game is a relatively very recent development, and strikes me as being treated as an afterthought and sideshow by FIFA after being virtually banned and outlawed for decades. Usually a governing organization for a sport follows the development of the sport and is created to give it structure and competitive balance and does not “preexist” the creation of the sport they govern. This is not the case with Women’s Soccer. At least with the international game involving the FIFA WWC and the Olympic Soccer tournament.

    FIFA organized women’s international tournaments for political reasons and no other. What else explains farces like USA 14, Dominican Republic 0 and Germany 17 Kazakhstan 0? Will the women’s game be reorganized or restuctured to be more competitive? Not on your life!!!

    • Steglitz49

      “What else explains farces like” — Japan losing 0-8 to Sweden in 1991 and not getting out of their group until the 2011 WC.

      “stop arguing and nitpicking over the details” is a great attitude but unfortunately the devil is in the detail, as others have pointed out.

      The Mobacst Cup is played at a compromise time because of summer and winter seasons and international tournaments (just like the Algarve and Cyprus cups). Here we read that an NWSL team can’t take part at the Mobcast time because of this and because of that.

      In reality, the men’s game subsidizes the ladies. Indeed, the ladies game is changing as more and more wealthy men’s teams are putting more lolly into their ladies’ sides, as witness Liverpool Ladies winning the FAWSL this year.

  • luke

    Pay for the plane, hotel and training grounds and these girls will play for trophy – that’s the way they are, the last football players playing for love of the sport. Great idea!

    • Steglitz49

      How much do you think that is? $50,000 per team or $75,000 per team?