November 12 – The World Leagues Forum has formalised the establishment of the Women’s Leagues Forum, which will provide professional women’s football leagues worldwide with a group platform to share information and best practise and to crucially lobby governing bodies on issues facing the development of the women’s professional game.
Under the umbrella of the World Leagues Forum, the lobbying and advocacy group will now have a 45-country men’s leagues membership and with the Women’s Leagues Forum, a further 16 bodies responsible for their women’s national football league.
NWSL Commissioner Jessica Berman, who will co-chair the group with Sweden’s Annika Gralls, chair of OBOS Damallsvenskan, said: “This group began informally meeting in July 2022 and we quickly recognized the need for an advocacy and advisory forum that was exclusively focused on the women’s game, our leagues, and how we collectively continue to grow and thrive.”
The group met in San Diego, USA, somewhat fittingly on the sidelines of the NWSL’s closing Championship match between the OL Reign and Gotham FC – a match that will bring the curtain down on Megan Rapinoe’s career, a player who has inspired women both on the pitch and off it with her advocacy for human and women’s rights.
“We need this starting point where we can come together to discuss our issues, focus on our future and to work for the changes that are needed for the best development for women´s leagues globally,” said Grälls.
The Women’s Leagues Forum has established a board of 8eight professional league leaders to represent them. Alongside the co-chairs are:
- Mariana Gutierrez, Head of Liga MX Femenil (Mexico)
• Haruna Takata, Chairwoman, WE League (Japan)
• Beatriz Alvarez, President, Liga F (Spain)
• Fiona McIntyre, Managing Director, Scottish Women’s Premier League (Scotland)
• Nick Garcia, Commissioner, A Leagues (Australia)
• Lorin Parys, CEO, Pro League (Belgium)
The Board also nominated Jean-Michel Aulas as a co-opted member, representing the French Women’s League (integrated to its Federation).
Moya Dodd, a trailblazer in the women’s game and a former national team player for Australia and one of the first female members of the old FIFA executive committee and the the FIFA Council which replaced it, was appointed Secretary of the Board and will steer its work, together with Jerome Perlemuter, General Secretary of the World Leagues Forum.
Dodd has been a driving force behind the creation of the body and has consulted with World Leagues Forum on women’s football since 2021.
“The Women’s Leagues Forum is a much-needed initiative… There are too few rooms at a global level that convene solely around interests of the women’s game; to create one is a recognition of the crucial roles of professional clubs and leagues in creating everyday training environments for the world’s best players to thrive,” said Dodd.
“It will facilitate sharing best practices, identifying common interests and shape a landscape that can best allow women’s football to develop, considering its specificities. We look forward to what is ahead of us.”
The founding leagues are a mix of independent professional structures (USA, Sweden, Spain, Japan, Norway); integrated with the men’s professional league (Australia, Mexico, Scotland, Belgium, Costa Rica, Panama); as well as ‘connecting’ with a number federations who are responsible for their national women’s league (including England, France, Denmark and Finland).
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