When the group of 12 European clubs announced they were creating a Super League, they also announced ‘a corresponding women’s league will also be launched’. Leading voices in the women’s game were immediately skeptical.
In what is arguably the most turbulent 48 hours in the history of football, it may have got a little lost that the group of clubs who proposed the Super League, increasingly known as the ‘dirty dozen’, were apparently also keen to massively revamp women’s football.
It’s hard to know exactly to what extent the group planned to change women’s football in its current form as the explanation was less than a sentence long.
“As soon as practicable after the start of the men’s competition, a corresponding women’s league will also be launched, helping to advance and develop the women’s game,” the press release for the new European Super League said.
This almost throw-away line enraged leading women’s football writer Suzanne Wrack.
“It is easy to see this as a glib inclusion of the women’s game, a token gesture to try and put a sheen on plans, except, if we are to assume the model will be similar to the men’s, then the effect on the women’s game could be crippling,” Wrack wrote in The Guardian.
Wrack pointed out that the team which has been by far the most successful when it comes to women’s football in Europe - seven-time women’s Champions League winner Olympique Lyonnais - was left out of this proposed super league.
Most of the clubs that were included don’t exactly have a rich history when it comes to women’s football. Real Madrid’s women’s team has been around for one year, Manchester United’s for three and Juventus’s for four. Liverpool have been heavily criticised for their failure to invest in their women’s team that was relegated recently.
Wrack fired a warning when it comes to these types of promises made by big clubs.
“As it grows and becomes increasingly profitable... women’s football will be increasingly used as a pawn in the corridors of power,” Wrack wrote.
One of the greatest women’s players ever, Ada Hegerberg, also joined in the criticism of the proposal.
“I grew up loving the Champions League. Then I got to play in the UEFA Women’s Champions League. Then I got to win 5 of them and become the all-time leading goalscorer. It's legacy. It's the past, present, and future, so is meritocracy in sports. Greed is not the future,” Hegerberg tweeted.
Retired German footballer and current head of women’s football at UEFA, Nadine Kessler, was equally critical of the plan.
“(The Super League) is a direct threat to all the plans we have carefully crafted, together with the ECA, your clubs and the leagues, for the new UEFA Women’s Champions League,” Kessler said via a statement.
“All the great steps made in recent years, including the hardship of many players gone before, for our game to become a profession across Europe, will have less of a chance of becoming a reality.”
“The values of our sport matter in times when greed seems to overshadow the broader needs of society and football as a whole. Because solidarity matters!”
The UEFA Women’s Champions League will undergo a number of changes for next season, including a group stage.