International Centre for
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Thu. 08 June 2017

First CIES Football Observatory report on women’s football

Women’s football is currently undergoing a welcome development. At the elite level, the process of professionalisation is well underway in several countries worldwide. Following in the footsteps of the CIES Football Observatory studies, Monthly Report number 26 analyses the composition of squads in five of the world’s most developed leagues: four European (Germany, Sweden, France and England), as well as the Women’s National Soccer League in the United States.

The report notably highlights that women’s football is generating more and more international movements. On the 1st June 2017, 274 footballers were expatriated in the 55 clubs analysed (5.1 per team). Only 5 clubs out of 55 did not field expatriate players. Conversely, expatriates played a majority of minutes in five teams: SC Sand, Bayern Munich and Wolfsburg in Germany, as well as Rosengård and Vittsjö in Sweden.

The study also underlines that the most successful women’s teams field almost exclusively players with international status. The highest values in absolute were measured at Champions League winners Olympique Lyonnais (97.7%) and Wolfsburg (97.4%). Full internationals also played more than 80% of match minutes at Rosengård, Bayern Munich, Paris St-Germain and Eskilstuna United.

While the general level of women’s football grows, the increase in the means at the disposal of the wealthiest clubs poses a problem in terms of competitive balance. The eventual creation of international leagues bringing together the richest teams is an option. However, this should not occur at the expense of the multiple actors having historically worked, and often struggled, so that the women’s game could progress and reach its current level.

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