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Former US Coach Ellis Heads FIFA Group On Women's Soccer

Former US Coach Ellis Heads FIFA Group On Women's Soccer

Former U.S. women's coach Jill Ellis was appointed Sunday to lead FIFAs technical advisory group on the future of womens soccer.

World Cup-winning coach Jill Ellis was hired by FIFA to be lead adviser on the future of womens soccer as the governing body ramps up a campaign to turn the tournament into a biennial event.

Ellis led the U.S. to titles in 2015 and 2019 before leaving. She is tasked to examine changes to the international match calendar and competitive balance in a global womens game skewed heavily toward a few elite nations.

Preparing to start on the technical advisory group, Ellis said no determined has been made whether to double the frequency of World Cups from their current quadrennial schedule. FIFA President Gianni Infantino has discussed playing the tournament every other year.

That is a component of looking at different levers to pull to grow the game, Ellis said in a video briefing Sunday. Everything is going to be in the scope of conversation, but that has not been determined. I think thats going to be part of the conversation of this group is to is to make recommendations.

The Women’s World Cup and continental events such as the European Championship, Copa America and CONCACAF Golf Cup are held in odd-numbered years. The mens World Cup and Euros are held in even-numbered years along with the Olympic soccer tournament, which for women is a major event involving national teams.

FIFAs new vision for football would mean every year would feature a mens tournament, which would deny the clear summer focus to promote the growth of the womens game. A biennial World Cup also would clash with the Olympics.

Im aware that there is ongoing conversations on the mens side, but I think theyre probably looking at a lot of different things in terms of handling the landscape, Ellis said. One of the things that I said to people is, Listen, there cant be a world championship, a major championship played on the womens side on the same day as the mens side. So just simple calendar alignment and working on it cooperatively so that both the women and the men, sports fans can stand tall. I think those types of things are important.

So thats looking at the scope of the calendar. And within that, well probably come the discussion on the frequency of of world championships.

There is seemingly more leeway in the calendar to accommodate World Cups every two years for women, The men’s schedule already is congested by club seasons than run from August until May, filled with league matches, domestic cups, European competitions and international competitions and friendlies.

Theyre just massive focus points in terms of just elevating our game, not just in terms of the economic drivers of sponsors coming to the table, but I think probably participation increases after major world events, Ellis said. So theres a lot of reasons for us to dig in to what makes sense. But thats still thatll be part of the solution and part of the focus groups task.

The 54-year-old Ellis coached the U.S. team from 2014-19 and was voted FIFA Womens Coach of the Year in 2015 and 19.

FIFA has been criticized for the inequity in funding between mens and womens soccer. It awarded $400 million in prize money for the 32 teams at the 2018 mens World Cup, including $38 million to champion France. It awarded $30 million for the 24 teams at the 2019 Womens World Cup, including $4 million to the U.S. after the Americans won their second straight title.

FIFA has increased the total to $440 million for the 2022 mens World Cup, and Infantino has proposed FIFA double the womens prize money to $60 million for the 2023 Womens World Cup, in which FIFA has increased the teams to 32.

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first published:September 06, 2021, 01:06 IST