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WEEKLY WHINE

How to rise to the challenge of women’s football

Recently, we have brought in the GoobNet Special Projects Enhancement and Enforcement Division [SPEED] to help us fix women’s football. They have already completely renovated the Women’s World Cup qualifiers and the confederation championship tournaments.

Thanks to their tireless work, we have added many more women’s international matches to the calendar. But our proposals for Women’s World Cup qualifiers and the confederation tournaments can only go so far. In CONMEBOL and the OFC, for example, many teams qualify for the confederation tournament automatically. And in CAF, many teams will be eliminated from the qualifiers at an early stage. Is there not a way to give these teams something to do in the interim?

Yes.

This is, after all, exactly the problem that the UEFA and CONCACAF Men’s Nations Leagues, as well as the 2018 Caribbean Women’s Challenge Series, were intended to address. We should draw inspiration from these tournaments to find more opportunities to add to the women’s football calendar.

UEFA

Union of European Football Associations
Total member nations: 55
Places at Women’s World Cup: 8
Proposed places at Women’s European Championship: 16

Our proposals for the Women’s World Cup qualifiers and Women’s European Championship qualifiers expand the group phase to include all participating teams. Therefore, there is no need to add any further competitions.

AFC

Asian Football Confederation
Total member nations: 47
Places at Women’s World Cup: 5
Proposed places at Women’s Asian Cup: 12

Our proposal for the Women’s Asian Cup qualifiers expands the group phase to include all participating teams.

But in the Women’s World Cup qualifiers, we have two group phases and, depending upon the number of entrants, a preliminary round. We propose adding an AFC Women’s Challenge Series to be played during the final round of qualifiers. All teams that did not reach the final round take part in the Challenge Series, where they are drawn into groups of up to six teams. For instance, if 25 teams enter the Women’s World Cup qualifiers, one of them is eliminated in the preliminary round, and twelve are eliminated in the first group phase. These thirteen teams could be drawn into three groups, one containing five teams and two containing four.

The AFC has one member nation [Northern Mariana Is] that is not a FIFA member. They cannot participate in the Women’s World Cup qualifiers, but they may enter the AFC Women’s Challenge Series.

CONCACAF

Confederation of North/​Central American and Caribbean Association Football
Total member nations: 41
Places at Women’s World Cup:
Proposed places at Women’s Gold Cup: 12

Our proposal for the Women’s Gold Cup qualifiers expands the group phase to include all participating teams.

But in the Women’s World Cup qualifiers, we only have room for twelve teams in the group phase. Accordingly, we propose adding a CONCACAF Women’s Challenge Series to be played during the group phase of qualifiers. As with the AFC Women’s Challenge Series, all teams that did not reach the group phase take part, where they are drawn into groups of up to six teams.

Furthermore, the CONCACAF Women’s Challenge Series gives an opportunity to the six CONCACAF members [Bonaire, French Guiana, Guadeloupe, Martinique, Saint Martin, and Sint Maarten] that are not FIFA members and therefore cannot play in the Women’s World Cup qualifiers. These teams may enter the CONCACAF Women’s Challenge Series. Therefore, up to 29 teams could take part; in this case, they would be drawn into four groups of six teams and one group of five teams.

CONMEBOL

Confederación Sudamericana de Fútbol
Total member nations: 10
Places at Women’s World Cup:
Proposed places at Women’s Copa América: 10

Our proposal for the Women’s World Cup qualifiers is a single group phase including all ten CONMEBOL members.

But because all ten teams take part in the Women’s Copa América, there are no qualifiers, and so the two years before the Women’s Copa América are vacant. We therefore propose a CONMEBOL Women’s Nations League to be played during that time. The format is the same as for the Women’s World Cup qualifiers: all ten teams in one group, playing each other home and away for a total of eighteen matches. The inaugural CONMEBOL Women’s Nations League begins in the international dates of AUG-SEP 2019 and wraps up in OCT 2020. CONMEBOL could optionally add some sort of championship match or elimination phase in NOV 2020.

CAF

Confédération Africaine de Football
Total member nations: 56
Places at Women’s World Cup: 3
Proposed places at Women’s African Nations Cup: 12

Our proposals for the Women’s World Cup qualifiers and Women’s African Nations Cup qualifiers both involve preliminary rounds prior to the group phase [depending upon participation rates]. We propose adding a CAF Women’s Challenge Series to be played during the group phase of each qualifying tournament. All teams that did not reach the group phase take part in the Challenge Series, where they are drawn into groups of up to four teams.

CAF has two associate member nations [Réunion and Zanzibar] that are not FIFA members. They cannot participate in the Women’s World Cup qualifiers, but they may enter the CAF Women’s Challenge Series in Women’s World Cup qualifying years. In Women’s African Nations Cup qualifying years, of course, they may enter the qualifiers and would play in the Challenge Series if they do not reach the group phase.

OFC

Oceania Football Confederation
Total member nations: 14
Places at Women’s World Cup: 1
Proposed places at OFC Women’s Nations Cup: 12

Our proposal for the OFC Women’s Nations Cup qualifiers involves a group phase with four teams; the other ten OFC members qualify automatically. We therefore propose an OFC Women’s Nations League to be played in the two years before the OFC Women’s Nations Cup. It could even be combined with the Nations Cup qualifiers. For instance, the fourteen OFC members could be divided into two leagues, each with seven teams. In each league, all teams would play one another twice, home and away. Teams in League A would qualify automatically for the Nations Cup, and the top five teams in League B would join them.

Our proposal for the Women’s World Cup qualifiers involves two group phases. Six teams take part in the final round; for the other teams, we propose an OFC Women’s Challenge Series, to be played in groups of up to six teams. The OFC’s three associate members [Kiribati, Niue, and Tuvalu] may also enter the Challenge Series. If they all enter, that would make a total of eight teams in the Challenge Series, and they would play in two groups of four teams.

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