The UEFA Women’s Champions League and fairness


We talk about fairness in football a lot – as we do luck – we talk about results that don’t fairly reflect the match, about unfair draws and all facets of being hard done by and meddling outside forces.

With that in mind let’s take a look at UEFA’s proposed plans for finishing the 2019-20 Women’s Champions League season… Oh.

Reported in the Telegraph last week and quietly whispered amongst clubs for a little while longer, UEFA’s current proposal is a mini tournament for the last eight clubs still in this season’s competition. Although the plan hasn’t been finalised and is reportedly, one of many being discussed, and is taking into consideration of the thoughts of clubs and leagues involved, it still seems… unfair.

The eight teams still standing are easily divvied up; two from Germany, two from France, two from Spain and two from the UK (one from England and one from Scotland). Meaning – depending on when the proposed tournament takes place – only two teams will be match fit. Sure, in this hypothetical world in which this tournament is green lit, teams will convene and train to work up fitness, but only the two German teams would have recent competitive games under their belt.

Which seems rather unfair.

There is of course the comment that due to the current Champions League schedule and number of European leagues that run a “summer” format, there are plenty who aren’t fully in-season throughout the campaign, forcing imbalances anyway. So, if it’s something that punctuates each Champions League season regardless, why should I get snippy about it now that it will affect big teams?

The simple answer is another question: does the Women’s Champions League season absolutely have to be completed? Most women’s leagues around the world that were mid-season when the Coronavirus pandemic began to shut countries down, have closed the book on the 2019-20 campaign.

It’s not sexist to accept that what works for men’s football won’t work for women’s football in many cases in these circumstances. It doesn’t trample all over equality to acknowledge that the finances in women’s football are different from in the men’s game and forcing a restart of leagues would be putting people with less protection in needless danger.

Yes, I’m sure UEFA could subsidise teams and ensure testing, squirrelling all eight teams away somewhere neutral to play out a tournament. But is it worth it? To take footballers away from their loved ones at a time like this, to ask the majority of the Glasgow City team [who are part-time]to make arrangements with their employees. To award a trophy that will always carry an asterisk, to play the biggest match of the domestic calendar in Europe behind closed doors.

I say all this, fully aware that it is equally as unfair on players to ask them to throw in the towel when they had worked hard to get to the Champions League quarterfinals.

Ultimately, UEFA will decide what they decide. Whether what they settle on is fair or not is another matter.


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