The month of April brought significant changes in the outlook for the near future of women's football in Portugal and Europe. Despite being excluded from the Euro 2022 final phase by Russia, losing 1-0 in Lisbon and drawing 0-0 in Moscow, Portugal achieved its best result yet. The 2022 European championship panel is now complete and the new women's Champions League structure is now also known.
Despite the early elimination, Portugal achieved its best world ranking ever. Portugal is now the 18th team in the world (behind Russia, at 15th). Previously, from March 2019 to December 2020, Portugal held 30th place in the hierarchy.
In the lead, which serves as the draw for the Olympic tournament, is the United States, current world champion, ahead of Germany, second, and France, third.
Moving up despite the failure to qualify
Francisco Neto, the Portuguese coach, acknowledged that these qualifiers left the team with a "bitter taste", but praised "the competitive level presented by Portugal in all matches", decisive for the rise in the FIFA ranking and that will bring positive effects for future competitions. "The rise in the ranking allows us to be in better pots, avoiding opponents with higher rankings and allowing us to be more competitive", noted Francisco Neto, pointing out that Portugal may, "also for the first time in history", start on pot two for next World Cup qualification draw.
With or without Portugal, the 2022 European Championship will be a reality and is expected to be one of the best tournaments to date. Women's football has developed and grown notoriously, and some of the best teams in the world are qualified: Netherlands, Denmark, Norway, Spain, Finland, Sweden, France, Belgium, Germany, Iceland, Austria, Italy and Russia. The final phase of the 2022 European Championship will take place in England, July 6 - 31.
Women's Champions League
For Francisco Neto, the creation of the Women's League was a turning point for the sport in Portugal, boosted by the entry of Sporting CP, SC Braga and SL Benfica, who "brought more visibility [to the sport] and guarantees professional conditions for the players".
The "foreign market" is also starting to grasp and surrender to the qualities of the Portuguese footballer. The national coach explains that players are already being "sought after by big clubs", adding that players move abroad "to fight for titles and have competitive conditions of excellence ".
"This balance is fundamental for us. On one side, having a good league, in which players can play competitively (...) and, at the same time, have players in big international clubs and in big competitions, to be able to develop and grow. This makes our team stronger ", Neto said.
The new competition model, approved by the UEFA Executive Committee last week, will be introduced in 2021/22 and will allow the world's largest women's club competition to redistribute EUR 24 million to women's football across Europe: four times more than the current figures.
Join the Lisbon Football Youth Cup in 2021
Move Sports plays a role in the development of women's football through its Lisbon Youth Football Cup, an international youth football party that features a women's competition. It is also a multicultural experience that brings together boys and girls from around the world. The 2020 edition had to be cancelled due to the restrictions brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic. Still, preparations have already begun for the 2021 edition, to be held on October 30 - 31, when we believe we can safely run the event and, once again, live our passion for football together!
In 2021, we hope to welcome international teams as we did in the past, including Beijing Dongcheng (China), HJK (Finland), Hammarby (Sweden), St. John's Wood FC (England), Étoile Mouzillonnaise Football (France), Lourdes Celtic Football Club (Ireland), Benfica and Sporting (Portugal). We believe it will be the largest LFYC to date. Join us!