It was yet another massive month in women’s football on both the international and club stage. FIFA.com reviews all the action highlighted by the impending retirement of the game’s greatest-ever goalscorer. There is also major news from USA’s domestic league, as well as from Europe, Rio 2016 qualifying and more.
Goalscoring great to hang up boots
World record international goalscorer Abby Wambach has announced she will retire from the game. Wambach’s final outing is set to be against China PR on 16 December in New Orleans. Her international career record currently stands at 184 goals - more than any other male or female player - in 252 internationals. “Abby is a player who has transcended our sport and her legacy as one of the world's greatest players is set forever," USA coach Jill Ellis said about Wambach. Meanwhile, the Stars and Stripes farewelled three other long-serving greats during October; Shannon Boxx, Lori Chalupny and Lauren Holiday.
Momentum builds in Europe
The charge for the 2017 UEFA Women’s EURO in the Netherlands is gathering pace with numerous nations still perfect after three rounds. Germany, France, Sweden and Switzerland are among the bigger nations to boast 100 per cent records, though each have played a varying amount of matches. Perhaps the biggest surprise is Austria who are yet to compete in a continental championship, but currently lead Norway at the top of their group, albeit having played an extra match.
Sasaki signs on
Japan’s momentum on the international stage seems likely to continue with the FIFA Women’s World Cup™-winning coach signing a new contract with the Nadeshiko for an undisclosed period. Sasaki has been in charge of Japan since 2008, and in that time the Nadeshiko also reached the 2012 London Olympics final, the 2015 Women’s World Cup Final, and were crowned Asian champions for the first time.
Breakthrough in Africa
There were yet more signs of the games’ growth in Africa after Zimbabwe and South Africa secured the continent’s two spots for Rio 2016, leaving traditional elite Nigeria on the outer. South Africa featured at London 2012, but narrowly failed to qualify for the 2015 Women’s World Cup, while Zimbabwe are celebrating winning through to their first global final at any level.
Having achieved a new high average crowd attendance during 2015, USA’s National Women’s Soccer League has proven its buoyancy with the addition of a tenth team. Orlando Pride will take their place for the 2016 season, with the team owned by MLS side Orlando City. Orlando, who will be managed by former USA and Australia coach Tom Sermanni, made an immediate splash by announcing the signing of USA poster-girl Alex Morgan and Canada midfielder Kaylyn Kyle.
Kansas City became the first team in the NWSL’s short history to defend their title, defeating favourites Seattle Reign 1-0 in Portland. Across the Atlantic on the same weekend, Chelsea were crowned English champions for the first time, achieving a league and cup double. Rosengard retained their Swedish title but only after finally overhauling unheralded Eskilstuna United on the penultimate weekend, denying them a fairytale finish.
European field narrowing
The UEFA Women’s Champions League is down to the last-16 where some mouth-watering ties are lined up for the coming fortnight. Arguably, the pick is newly-crowned English queens Chelsea against two-time European champions Wolfsburg. German champions Bayern Munich, however, suffered a shock early elimination on away goals after a 3-3 aggregate draw against Netherlands’ Twente.
It has been another massive month for women’s football development across the globe. Over 30 FIFA-backed events were held across all six confederations varying from Girls Festivals, women’s football consultancies, administration and coaching courses and much more. All this is aside from Live Your Goals events for which there were at least 15 scheduled. Among the highlights was an extensive practical and theoretical women’s football course conducted by legendary former Italian international Carolina Morace in Iran, where football has surged in popularity among females in the past few years.
100 – England midfielder Jill Scott became the ninth female member of the nation’s ‘100 club’ on Wednesday as the Three Lionesses beat Australia 1-0 in China.
“This team taught all America's children that playing like a girl means you're a badass. Playing like a girl means being the best.” USA President Barack Obama welcoming the Women’s World Cup-winning national team to the White House