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The Women's Football Thread

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A thread for any and all discussions of the beautiful game, as played by women!

The undisputed queens of the sport, the US Women's National Team, are just kicking off in their final SheBelieves Cup match against Japan, although they have basically already won the tournament due to results elsewhere - Spain defeated England earlier tonight, with Phil Neville now under increasing pressure as England boss having presided over seven defeats in eleven games since the World Cup last year and now a very meek attempt at defending the SheBelieves Cup.

Also, this ridiculousness is in the news today:

Male footballers should earn more than women... according to US football authorities: The US women's football team is less skilled and has fewer responsibilities than their male colleagues, according to US Soccer.

So yeah, if you love/enjoy/sometimes watch the women's game, please do use this thread to discuss it! Maybe I'm the only one, but I seem to remember last year's World Cup generating decent interest here last summer.

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The Football Association is to announce that Phil Neville will step down as manager of England Women at the end of his contract in the summer of 2021.

A new head coach will take the reins for the European Championship in England in 2022. That tournament was originally scheduled for the summer of 2021, with Neville’s contract due to end after its conclusion, but the coronavirus pandemic meant it was postponed by a year.

It is unclear whether Neville will take charge of Team GB as planned at the Olympic Games, which have also been delayed by a year until the summer of 2021.

The 43-year-old conceded in March that it was fair for people to criticise his tenure, which began in January 2018, labelling England’s SheBelieves Cup campaign that month as “unacceptable”. Defeats by USA and Spain, sandwiching a scrappy 1-0 win against Japan, took England to seven losses in 11 games, a run that began with a 2-1 defeat by USA in their World Cup semi-final last summer.

After the defeat against Spain, Neville said he needed a period of “self-reflection”, adding: “I went through five managers in Valencia for better records than I’ve got at this moment in time. David Moyes lost his job at Manchester United with probably a better record than I’ve got so I take responsibility.”

The pressure has mounted on Neville who, despite a first SheBelieves Cup title in 2019 and having reached the last four of the World Cup, has struggled to get the Lionesses producing consistent performances across 90 minutes. Defensive fragilities have also blighted the former Manchester United and England defender’s tenure.

The Football Association stuck by its man, though, including when critics pointed to the run of five games without a win that led to the sacking of Hope Powell as manager in 2013. Neville insisted after defeat against Norway in a friendly: “I have a vision that no one else has. I’ve got bravery that no other coach has. So thank your lucky stars. I think with the players we’ve got we can go far.”

Yet there is a feeling that while the best teams in the world have pushed on since last summer, England have at best stood still, with Neville having previously cited a lack of competitive action (with the team having qualified for the European Championship as hosts) as the reason for a “World Cup hangover”.

An 86th-minute winner from Leah Williamson in England’s laboured 3-2 victory against the Czech Republic, a team ranked 21 places below them, in November threw the manager a lifeline just as the narrow window for the FA to make a leadership change before the Olympics looked to be closing. The postponement of the Tokyo Games and Euro 2021, though, has given the governing body the opportunity to afford a new manager the time to mould and prepare a team capable of competing through back-to-back tournaments.

When outlining its Gameplan for Growth strategy in 2017 the FA targeted the 2023 World Cup as the tournament when the structures and support systems around the national team would be strong enough for it to challenge. That left the FA with a dilemma: extend Neville’s contract until 2022 to take account of the coronavirus delay, or give his replacement the time they need to build for a critical tournament.

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Euro 2021 now confirmed for July 2022. The state of the replies on Twitter confirms that Twitter football fans remain hideous.

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Australia and New Zealand are now in a three-horse race to host the 2023 Women’s World Cup after Brazil withdrew their bid. The South American giants announced on Tuesday their withdrawal after it was deemed economic support from government and private entities could not be guaranteed.

In a statement, the Brazilian Football Confederation (CBF) said economic concerns related to the Covid-19 crisis were a primary factor in the bid being withdrawn.

“In view of the exceptional times experienced by the country and the world, CBF understands the cautious position of the Brazilian government, and of other public and private partners, which prevented them from formalising the commitments within the time or in the required manner,” the CBF said.

Brazil’s withdrawal means Australia and New Zealand are bidding to host the tournament along with Asian heavyweights Japan and another South American nation, Colombia.

The winning bid will be decided by an online meeting of the Fifa council on 25 June.

Japan, the 2011 Women’s World Cup winners, are the main rivals to Australia and New Zealand’s bid. The Asian nation’s bid features eight stadiums, many of which are set to host matches for next year’s Olympic football tournaments.

Outsiders Colombia, who only formed a women’s league in 2017, are bidding to become the first South American nation to host the Women’s World Cup.

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The US women’s national team want the US Soccer Federation to repeal the anthem policy it instituted after Megan Rapinoe started kneeling during the the Star-Spangled Banner.

The four-time world champions also want the federation to state publicly that the policy was wrong and issue an apology to the team’s black players and supporters.

“Further, we believe the Federation should lay out its plans on how it will now support the message and movement that it tried to silence four years ago,” the US women’s team said in a statement posted on the Twitter feed of its players’ association Monday night.

Rapinoe took a knee during the anthem at a pair of national team matches in 2016. She said she wanted to express solidarity with San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick, who silently took a knee during the national anthem before NFL games to raise awareness of police brutality and racial injustice.

The US Soccer Federation then approved a policy in February 2017 that stated players “shall stand respectfully” during national anthems. The policy remains in place, though the unions for the men’s and women’s teams believe it doesn’t apply to their players because of their collective bargaining agreements.

Kaepernick and Rapinoe each faced sharp criticism for the protest for years. But public sentiment has changed since George Floyd’s death last month.

Floyd, a black man, died after a white Minneapolis police officer pressed his knee into Floyd’s neck while Floyd was handcuffed and saying that he couldn’t breathe. His death sparked protests in Minneapolis and around the country, some of which became violent.

A lawyer for the men’s team union also called for the repeal of the policy and an apology in a statement provided to BuzzFeed News, which was the first to report on the US women’s statement.

Among Rapinoe’s most visible critics for her stance was US president Donald Trump, who targeted the star midfielder following her two-goal performance against Spain in last year’s World Cup quarter-finals, although he addressed Twitter user @meganrapino rather than Rapinoe’s official account @mPinoe before correcting it about an hour later.

“Women’s soccer player, @meganrapino, just stated that she is “not going to the F...ing White House if we win.” Other than the NBA, which now refuses to call owners, owners (please explain that I just got Criminal Justice Reform passed, Black unemployment is at the lowest level... ....in our Country’s history, and the poverty index is also best number EVER), leagues and teams love coming to the White House. I am a big fan of the American Team, and Women’s Soccer, but Megan should WIN first before she TALKS!

“Finish the job! We haven’t yet........invited Megan or the team, but I am now inviting the TEAM, win or lose. Megan should never disrespect our Country, the White House, or our Flag, especially since so much has been done for her & the team. Be proud of the Flag that you wear. The USA is doing GREAT!”

The USA women ultimately won the tournament with Rapinoe finishing on six goals and claiming the Golden Ball as the top player of the competition.

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Australia/New Zealand will host the 2023 World Cup. 

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