The 2014 FIFA Club Club Cup was won by the UEFA Champions (as always) Real Madrid and for a competition that was borne out of the need to promote football across the globe on a club level, it’s been a good stride. Not profound but good.
Here’s the crunch part. We ladies ALWAYS want equal opportunities. Be it in Management, Sports and even the Kitchen (Yes Men… do help out equally!). There were talks on FIFA taking over the International Women’s Club Championship (IWCC) or the Nestle Cup (for sponsorship reasons) which is a tournament that has been held in Japan since its inception in 2012. Eventually the proposal offered by the FIFA Women’s Task Force fell through as the IWCC continued its current program.
Let’s get you up to speed with the IWCC:
The 2014 edition saw six clubs participate including the Champion from the Copa Libertadores Femenina (South America), Australian W-League champions, Nadeshiko League Regular Series champions (Japan) and Nadeshiko League champions with the addition of the invited English FA Cup Winner and the IWCC Preliminary Tournament winner. The tournament, much like the Club World Cup for men at its conception stage, has taken on various formats including invites for the UEFA Women’s Champions League Winner as well as other Nadeshiko League teams (due to its Japanese ownership). Despite the fact that this can be categorised as a test run, it is quite a misnomer to be termed a ”World Club Cup” as no CAF or CONCACAF team is present and it hardly involves champions from Europe, Oceania and Asia.
Recently, Moya Dodd, a Member of the FIFA Executive Committee and also on Task Force for Women’s football, resurrected an appeal on social media which echoed the proposal that was submitted two years ago alongside Lydia Nsekera (Burundi) and Sonia Bien-Aime which specifically requests FIFA to explore the possibility of inaugurating the Women’s World Club Cup. This came at the back of the complaints that the BBC Women’s Player of the Year nominees (that includes our very own Asisat Oshoala) , are hardly known for their club exploits as publicised.
On a wider perspective, they made some valid points. How can the women’s game appeal to a global reach when club competitions are hardly televised especially here in Africa? Must there be a four-year wait before the best players and teams in the world are recognised? Obviously, women’s football has made steady progress. However, so much more is left to be desired.
Should the women’s game toe the line of their male counterparts or just stick to its current regimen and achieve maximum results? We’ll classify this mini tour as ”To Be OR Not To Be”…..
- Every success story has its beginning. Women’s football was banned in the 1st half of the 1900s and it took 91 years into the century for the first ever Women’s World Cup to take place. In truth, it was a little overdue but the sport has grown in leaps and bounds since then. Media coverage has expanded, money is being pumped in, competitions are on the rise and a whole lot more. The men’s World Club Cup started as an offshoot of the Inter Continental Cup, the Afro Asian Championship and the Interamerican Cup in 2000 but it was in 2005 that it became an annual showpiece. 11 editions down the line, the CWC has become a mainstay. It had a beginning. The women’s equivalent can too!
- Women’s football is an important source of entertainment the world over. What buttresses this point is that there are no outright World Cup or League winners. The field is always thoroughly competitive so we can be rest assured that if we had our NWPL teams in the thick of things -against teams from other continents-, not only will it serve as great exposure for our girls but it will rival the men’s brand in terms of competition. Throw in the fact that our Falcons are a lot more bullish on the continent than our men, they would be soaring high in the same stead. Whilst it is almost certain that a winner from Europe or South America will take home the gong for the men, the women’s game serves up a completely different dish. North America, Europe, South America and now Asia are all in the mix. Throw in an African team and one from Oceania and we’ll be talking big business on the women’s scene.
- In this age of massive Broadcast deals, it is almost certain if all conditions are properly met by all parties involved, the publicity garnered for the sport will propel it to become a big deal in a short space of time.
- It will serve as additional revenue for the teams as they are expected to be well compensated. Imagine the ripple effect? Competition will be at an all time high and the game will take that eagerly awaited step to be financially rewarding and self sustainable in the long run.
NOT TO BE
- For continents like Asia and especially Africa, it will be difficult to get a structure in place for a qualifying Championship like the CAF Champions League for women. With this setup unavailable, what will be the basis for representation? Will an NWPL Champion, Fed Cup victor or Winner between the two be given the automatic ticket? As fantastic as it sounds on our part, how will the equality card be played out then? It may take CAF a longer time to implement a strategic women’s football league with finances the major bottleneck. It may mean the competition if considered, will take place without Africa’s input.
- The financial commitment to participate in such a competition will be directly tied to how our NWPL improves. With clubs struggling to make ends meet, there will of course be obstacles in logistics which will include travel costs and expenses. Will it be profitable for the team or teams involved? This is due to the fact that the game isn’t particularly a gold mine yet and we can trust that FIFA will start up small to see how it unfolds.
- The timing of the competition will also be a headache. Women’s football doesn’t follow a strict calendar like the men’s so the question will be what season of the year will be favourable to host such? If fixed in the summer, how does it affect world competitions for that calendar year as most FIFA tournaments are played out in the summer? If an NWPL team qualifies, there may be likelihood that players from the team will be drafted for U-17, U-20, Olympics or even the World Cup. It also has to be fixed when it will least affect our NWPL season as there are constant shifts in the timing due to administrative reasons. This for me will be cumbersome.
In a reverse idiomatic quote, ”What is good for the GANDER is (DEFINETELY) good for the GOOSE”. With African teams particularly Nigeria never in doubt to deliver on the world stage, a lot will need to be accomplished before we stand capable of representing. On our home front, the CAF Champions League has been immense for the male teams while the UEFA Champions League has been the DREAM model. Having put means in place to improve the game with tame progress, what better way than look inwards to club football with the hope of influencing the tides?
If the proper model is put in place and this dream comes to fruition, be rest assured our girls will be ready.
COME WHAT MAY!
By Janine Anthony