Women’s round-up: August 2011

Following a short break for the 2011 FIFA Women’s World Cup™, FIFA.com’s monthly review of women’s football returns with all the major news from across the globe. Arguably the biggest story over the past month was the retirement of two-time world champion Birgit Prinz. New world champions Japan enjoyed a euphoric and elongated reception after Germany 2011, while France drew a record attendance to their 'welcome home' match. On the club front, there was historic silverware for USA’s Western New York Flash and England’s Arsenal, while the new season kicked-off in Germany

Club Football
Big names on the move
A number of major Germany 2011 stars have joined new clubs, with Inka Grings shock move to Switzerland’s FC Zurich the most eye-catching. The veteran had spent her entire career with 2009 UEFA Women’s Cup winners FCR 2001 Duisburg and in that time was the Frauen-Bundesliga's top goalscorer on six occasions. Prolific for both club and country, Grings, along with former international defender Sonja Fuss, joined the club which last year lost their Swiss title last season to BSC Young Boys. Also on the move was Sweden skipper Caroline Seger who has returned home to current Damallsvenskan front-runners Malmo, ahead of their impending UEFA Women’s Champions League push. The midfielder has enjoyed a stellar two-months by firstly leading Sweden to third at Germany 2011, before playing a key role as Western New York Flash claimed championship glory.

German season kicks-off
The new season commenced in Germany amid optimism following the highly successful staging of the 2011 FIFA Women’s World Cup. While Germany 2011 may have witnessed a number of upsets, it was business as usual on the domestic front with the three usual suspects experiencing a perfect start. Cup winners FFC Frankfurt, defending champions FFC Turbine Potsdam and FCR 2001 Duisburg all collected six points from their opening two matches to share top spot. Potsdam's new signing, Equatorial Guinea star Anonman, has already scored three goals, as has veteran Conny Pohlers for her new club VfL Wolfsburg.

Arsenal claim inaugural title
Arsenal secured a 3-1 victory against Liverpool on the final day of the English Women's Super League season to ensure the historic first title would reside in north London. England star Rachel Yankey scored a double for Arsenal who finished three-points clear of long-time leaders Birmingham, with Everton in third.

All-star debutants in clean sweep
Western New York Flash concluded their debut Women’s Professional Soccer (WPS) season in perfect fashion by winning the Championship final, having already finished top of the ladder a fortnight earlier. With a number of Germany 2011 stars amid their ranks, most notably the attacking duo of Brazil’s Marta and Canada’s Christine Sinclair, the Rochester-based club finished narrowly ahead of Philadelphia Independence on the ladder. They then inflicting further pain on the same opponents with a penalty shoot-out victory in the Championship decider. The afterglow of Germany 2011 was in effect throughout July and August, most notably when Western New York Flash entertained Florida club magicJack, resulting in the largest crowd to ever attend a WPS match.

National teams
World champs honoured
Japan’s stunning FIFA Women’s World Cup win saw the women’s game and the national team enjoy an unprecedented level of attention. The Japan government named the team recipients of the "People's Honour Award", an honour only rarely granted. Meanwhile on the field, a record 18,000 crowd saw Japan captain Homare Sawa turn out for her table-topping INAC Kobe side immediately upon her return from Germany. A similar attendance was on hand last week as the Nadeshiko defeated a National League XI in a charity match for victims of March’s earthquake.

Germany says farewell to former heroines
In the weeks following Germany’s disappointing FIFA Women’s World Cup quarter-final exit, Silvia Neid’s team witnessed a number of major retirements, with none bigger than three-time FIFA World Player of the Year Birgit Prinz. That news was soon followed by Kerstin Garefrekes calling time on her ten-year international career, with Ariane Hingst and Ursula Holl having also done likewise.

Les Bleues enjoy rapturous homecoming
FIFA Women's World Cup semi-finalists France were cheered on by a record crowd for their homecoming match against Poland, following the team’s breakthrough showing in Germany. Les Bleues were 2-0 victors on the night thanks to goals from Elodie Thomis and Elise Bussaglia with 18,305 fans – the highest ever for a France women's friendly – at Stade Bollaert in Lens

New breed maintain Spanish hopes
Spain joined Germany as two-time winners of the UEFA European Women's Under-17 tournament but it took a lone Alba Pomares strike during injury time to edge France in the decider. Spain retained the title in Nyon, Switzerland after overpowering Iceland 4-0 in the semi-final, while France secured a penalty shoot-out victory against Germany.

Development
August proved a busy month for FIFA Development activities across the globe highlighted by an extensive five-day course conducted in Paraguay. The month also saw Women’s Football Courses conducted in Tanzania, Burkina Faso, Moldova, Cameroon and St Lucia.

The stat
353
– The number of goals scored by Inka Grings in 271 top-flight appearances for her Frauen-Bundesliga club Duisburg.

The quote
“It's very tough to compare one success with another, but the ones which are just a little ahead of everything else were my first game for Germany, taking part at the Sydney Olympics in 2000, which is when we joined the world elite as a team, and beating USA in the World Cup semi-finals in 2003."
Retiring Germany striker Birgit Prinz reflects on her career