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November 28, 2023

South Africa players celebrate with trophy Refiloe Jane (c) during the 2022 Womens Africa Cup of Nations Final between Morocco and South Africa at Prince Moulay Abdellah Stadium, Rabat, Morocco on 23 July 2022 ©Gavin Barker/BackpagePix

Written by Oluwaseun Oyediji

With few hours to the end of 2022, the year has witnessed some great events that have shaped Women’s football across the globe.

As we look forward to a prosperous New Year (2022), www.bettitude.com/blog flashback to the major events that shaped women’s football in 2022 in no particular order.

Football smiled on Desiree Ellis and South Africa

Holders ahead of the tournament, Super Falcons saw off Ghana and Ivory Coast to qualify for the tournament but showed shaky form at Aisha Buhari Cup in 2021, losing 4-2 to South Africa.

Ahead of the tournament, Nigeria hasn’t defeated South Africa in regulation time after three consecutive games.

The revolution of football in Morocco was also making waves, especially with the appointment of UEFA Women’s Champions League winner with Lyon, Reynolds Pedros as the Atlas Lionesses coach.

Where the pendulum of the trophy will swing ahead of the tournament seemed to be in the direction of nine-time Champions, Nigeria; South Africa, and host; Morocco.

True to the forecast, South Africa began its campaign with an impressive 2-1 win over holders and the most successful team in the tournament, Nigeria.

Both teams made it to the knockout out round and as far as the semi-final, qualifying for the 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup alongside Morocco and Zambia by virtue of making it to the last four.

South Africa reached another final after a 1-0 win against impressive Zambia in the semi-final.

Host, Morocco set up a final clash with South Africa after a penalty win over Nigeria.
The game ended 1-1 after regulation time with Nigeria reduced to nine players.

Football finally smiled at South Africa and coach Desiree Ellis as her team defeated Morocco 2-1 to win WAFCON 2022 for the first time.

The win added South Africa to the list of countries that have won the WAFCON title after Nigeria (nine times) and Equatorial Guinea (two times).

Women’s football finally came home

In a similar historic feat achieved at WAFCON, the Women’s Euros hosted by England had the likes of holders, the Netherlands, Germany, Spain, Sweden, and England as fan favourites ahead of the tournament.

England acquired the services of 2017 title-winning coach, Sarina Wiegman who had been unbeaten in its first 14 games in charge ahead of the tournament including winning the Arnold Clark Cup.

English Lionesses had a tough start to its Women’s Euro campaign with a hard-fought 1-0 win over Austria but top its group after seeing off former Champions, Norway (8-0) and Northern Ireland (5-0), showing its title credentials in the process.

Another herculean task awaits in Spain in the quarter-final.

England faced quarter-final elimination after going behind to Gonzalez Rodriguez’s 54th-minute goal and had to rely on Ella Ann Toone’s 84th-minute equalizer to force extra time where Georgia Stanway scored the winning goal.

In the semi-final, it was a straightforward 4-0 win against Sweden which set up a final clash with Germany at Wembley Stadium.

German top striker, Alexandra Popp suffered an injury shortly before the final game which ruled her out of the game causing a major setback for the most successful team in the tournament.

Ella Ann Toone had given England the lead in the final game but Lina Maghull equalised for Germany and pilled pressure on the host heading into the extra time.

The extra time team talk from Sarina Wiegman performed the miracle as Chloe Kelly scored the title-winning goal for England bringing the title home in the popular slogan, “It’s coming home”.

England thus won its first major title in 56 years.

Fatima Tagnaout of Asfar celebrates goal during 2022 CAF Women’s Champions League match between Asfar and Green Buffaloes held at Prince Moulay El Hassan Stadium in Rabat, Morocco on 2 November 2022 ©Weam Mostafa/BackpagePix

ASFAR FC Champions League triumph shows Moroccan football rise

Five debutants qualified for the second edition of the CAF Women’s Champions League hosted in Morocco.

Simba Queens (Tanzania), Green Buffaloes (Zambia), Determine Girls (Liberia), Bayelsa Queens (Nigeria), and TP Mazembe (Democratic Republic of Congo) made their debut appearance at the tournament joining holders, Mamelodi Sundowns Ladies (South Africa), ASFAR Club (Morocco), and Wadi Degla (Egypt).

Two of the five debutants; Bayelsa Queens and Simba Queens made it to the semi-final losing to ASFAR FC and Mamelodi Sundowns Ladies respectively.

Bayelsa Queens won the bronze medal after a 1-0 win over Simba Queens in the third-place match.

The final match further showed the rise in Moroccan football as Ibtisaam Jraidi’s hat-trick coupled with Fatima Tagnaout’s penalty ensured a 4-0 win for ASFAR FC over Mamelodi Sundowns Ladies.

The defeat was the first to be experienced by the South Africans after nine games in the tournament without defeat.

The Champions swept three out of four awards; Khadija Er-rmichi (Best goalkeeper of the tournament), Ibtisaam Jraidi (top goal scorer), Fatima Tagnaout (player of the tournament), and Bayelsa Queens (Fair play award).

BUDAPEST, HUNGARY – MAY 18: (l-r) Ada Hegerberg of Olympique Lyonnais controls the ball next to Mariona Caldentey of FC Barcelona during the UEFA Women’s Champions League Final match between Olympique Lyonnais and FC Barcelona at Ferencvaros Stadium on May 18, 2019 in Budapest, Hungary. (Photo by Laszlo Szirtesi/Getty Images)

Lyon tame invisible Barcelona in Champions League final

In an expected Titanic clash between Spanish and French Champions, Lyon reigned supreme in a 3-1 win over FC Barcelona Femeni in the final of the 2021/2022 UEFA Women’s Champions League.

All four goals came in the first half as Lyon raced to a 0-3 lead thanks to goals from Amandine Henry, Ada Hegerberg, and Catarina Macario.

Alexia Putellas reduced the deficit for the Catalan side in the 41st minute but the game had already been decided after both sides didn’t score any goal in the second half.

The surprising part of the match was how a domineering Barcelona conceded three goals within 23 minutes of the first half.

It showed that the team can be caged despite its invisibility in the league and the Champions League before meeting its bitter pills in Lyon.

FC Barcelona’s unbeaten league run

The defeat to Lyon in the Champions League final didn’t stop Barcelona from cementing its invisibility in the league.

Jonatan Giraldez’s side emphatically won all 30 league games.

The team not only won all its league games but clinched the title in a record-breaking goal-scoring form at the end of the 2021/2022 league campaign.

The Catalan side scored a total number of 159 goals and shipped in only 11 goals in 30 league games.

It carried the same form into the 2022/2023 league season with a maximum of 36 points after 12 games.


Brazil continues to dominate South America

As its men counterparts dominate the FIFA World Cup, the Brazilian women’s national team continues to dominate the Copa America Femenina.

The team won all its six games to win the 2022 Copa America Femenina title.

It pipped host, Colombia 1-0 in the final courtesy of a 39th-minute penalty by Debinha.

The win ensured a record-extending eighth Copa America Femenina title for Brazil out of nine tournaments.

Record-breaking women’s football spectators year

To many, women’s football is playing catch up with men’s football when it comes to a huge number of spectators in the stadium.

2022 will be remembered as a year where different records were broken as far as women’s football attendance is concerned.

The world record for women’s football spectators was set on April 22, 2022, when Barcelona Women played Wolfsburg Women in the UEFA Women’s Champions League at Camp Nou with 91,649 spectators.

Another UEFA Women’s Champions League game between FC Barcelona Femeni and Real Madrid at Camp Nou came close with 91,553 spectators also in 2022.

When England edged Germany 2-1 to win UEFA Women’s Euro 2022 final, a total number of 87,192 fans were inside the stadium making it the third-highest attendance recorded at any level of European football in 2022.

Before the above records in 2022, the long-standing record attendance at a women’s football match was 90,185, which was set in 1999 during the FIFA Women’s World Cup final between the United States and China at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, California.

In France, PSG’s UEFA Women’s Champions League semi-final second-leg match against Lyon was another commending catch-up in terms of growth for women’s football with a total attendance of 43,255 fans in attendance as the Parisian were beaten 2-1.

In England, the North London Derby between Arsenal FC Women and Tottenham Women in September 2022, was the highest-attended game in the Barclays English FA Women’s Super League (WSL) history being played in front of a crowd of 47,367 at the Emirates as Arsenal defeated Spurs 4-0.

The attendance equates to an average attendance of 14,879 across the league.

There was an additional 6,402 spectators across the second-tier Barclays Women’s Championship, meaning a total of 95,783 attended the fixtures across the top two divisions.

Newcastle United Women break attendance record as 22,134 watches first St James’ Park outing.
Attendance for FA Women’s National League Division One fixture smashed the previous club record for a women’s game when 2,754 fans attended their 1-0 defeat by Ipswich Town in the FA Cup in January.

Women’s football is progressively gaining traction in Africa. The semi-final match between Nigeria and Morocco played at the Complexe Sportif Prince Moulay-Abdellah in Rabat delivered a record-breaking attendance of 45,562.

The final match between Morocco and South Africa bettered this stat. With around 50,000 fans in the terraces, this is the new most attended WAFCON fixture.

Read Also Qatar 2022 Team Preview: Atlas Lions

FIFA Women’s Club World Cup

FIFA in December 2022 announced that a new women’s tournament will be formed.

The name of the tournament will be FIFA Women’s Club World Cup.

It will see continental Champions compete for honours.

The imperative nature of the new tournament can be seen in the development of women’s club football across the globe.

From Europe to Asia, Africa, and South America, club football is gaining ground with the Champions League.

UEFA Women’s Champions League, CAF Women’s Champions League, Asian Women’s Champions League, and Copa Libertadores Femenina in South America gave credence to the establishment of the FIFA Women’s Club World Cup.

FIFA Women’s World Cup debutants

With the expansion of the FIFA Women’s World Cup to 32 teams, it is naturally expected to give birth to lots of nations making their debut appearance at the global women’s football Mundial.

Five teams will be making their debut appearance at Australia/New Zealand FIFA Women’s World Cup in 2023.

Zambia, Morocco, Vietnam, the Philippines, and the Republic of Ireland qualified for their first FIFA Women’s World Cup from Africa, Asia, and Europe respectively.

The number might increase early next year (2023) after the conclusion of the Playoffs Tournament to fill the final three slots.

NWSL Investigation into Misconduct

The United States of America (USA) National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL) and NWSLPA released the findings of their joint investigation in December.

The 128-page document details allegations ranging from sexual misconduct to emotional abuse over the course of the NWSL’s 10-year history.
The investigation is the culmination of over a year of work, and it follows the Sally Q. Yates report conducted on behalf of U.S. Soccer.

The NWSL report further details Paul Riley, Rory Dames, and Christy Holly’s abuses of power, as well as the dismissals of Farid Benstiti and Amanda Cromwell.

It also discusses ownership failures to protect players and NDAs with severance given to both Dames and Holly.
The investigation uncovers new details of “widespread misconduct” in the league.

The report lists repeated instances of racism suffered by players of color, especially those under Richie Burke, and homophobia toward LGBTQ+ players.

Several names not mentioned in the Yates report were implicated, including former Gotham FC general manager Alyse LaHue, former Houston Dash coach Vera Pauw and former Utah Royals coach Craig Harrington.

More events are expected to sape women’s football in 2023.

At www.bettitude.com/blog, be sure that we will keep you up to date on those events in 2023.

Compliment of the season.

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