UEFA fury at FIFA ‘stooges’ appointed to reshape Women’s football calendar

By Paul Nicholson

October 20 – UEFA has reacted furiously to FIFA’s announcement of the 21 names on their Technical Advisory Group, saying that the group is not a representative of the bodies that run women’s competitions.

UEFA have pointed the finger at FIFA saying implying have appointed a committee of stooges under former US women’s coach Jill Ellis (pictured), who yesterday in her own press briefing seemed to imply that the shift towards a biennial Women’s World Cup was already a done deal, and slaughtered the Olympic women’s competition as being of little value for the development of the women’s game.

A UEFA spokesperson said: “It is FIFA themselves who have decided who to include in the technical advisory group. There is no representation of confederations or leagues that have the key expertise to run women’s football competitions within the framework of football calendars on a daily basis.”

UEFA echo previous demands – made alongside other stakeholders also excluded from the FIFA working group – for an open forum and transparent discussion on the future of the women’s game and calendar as it affects the whole game. Something the UEFA says FIFA has refused to initiate.

“In line with the joint statement released together with ECA, the WSL and many other European women’s leagues, we requested a joint stakeholder forum, as so far UEFA, leagues and competition organisers together with the clubs have not been heard in this process. No confirmation has been given by FIFA at this point,” said the UEFA spokesperson.

UEFA also accuses FIFA railroading through its latest big idea without any proof of concept.

“The feasibility study about a biennial World Cup has not been concluded or presented yet, nevertheless FIFA seems to be trying to push through a revolution without being able to demonstrate the benefits of it,” said the spokesperson.

A look at the list of members on FIFA’s TAG has impressive names from the past and big names from the present in terms of performance. But there are no names from the big women’s leagues or the major confederations. Indeed, Asia, which has a proud history of success in women’s football is pretty much completely overlooked – not for the first time in FIFA’s politics where the modus operandi has been based on the expectancy that they will follow submissively.

Concacaf’s Karina LeBlanc does make the group but there is no-one from UEFA.

The battle lines could not be more clearly drawn between those on the frontline of funding the women’s game and getting matches played week in, week out, and a global governing body that is lining up to eat their lunch.

Ellis and her cohort of former players and coaches will have to look hard at themselves and ask whether what they are proposing is actually doing the women’s game good or whether they are infact – by following the FIFA executive’s demand for a biennial World Cup – tearing apart the fabric of a women’s game and women’s sport that is still fragile but is coming together. It is a much bigger responsibility that goes beyond just picking up FIFA coin to nominally sit on a committee as part of FIFA’s PR and communications offensive.

List of women’s TAG participants

  • Deyna Castellanos (VEN) – Current player
  • Desiree Ellis (RSA) – National team coach
  • Laura Georges (FRA) – Administrator / former player
  • Emma Hayes (ENG) – Club coach
  • Lindsey Horan (USA) – Current player
  • Karina LeBlanc (CAN) – Former player
  • Kristine Lilly (USA) – Former player
  • Alex Morgan (USA) – Current player
  • Doreen Nabwire (KEN) – Administrator
  • Asisat Oshoala (NGA) – Current player
  • Mark Parsons (ENG) – Club coach
  • Ricardo Rambo (BRA) – National team coach
  • Wendie Renard (FRA) – Current player
  • Ali Riley (NZL) – Current player
  • Lotta Schelin (SWE) – Former player
  • Dawn Scott (ENG) – Sports scientist
  • Kelly Smith (ENG) – Former player
  • Bibiana Steinhaus-Webb (GER) – Referee
  • Pia Sundhage (SWE) – National team coach
  • Jorge Vilda (ESP) – National team coach
  • Sun Wen (CHN) – Former player

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