Although it is yet to catch up with men’s soccer in terms of widespread recognition, the women’s game has been dramatically on the rise over recent years. That’s why I’m writing this guide to the women’s top soccer leagues from around the world. In this brief, easy to read list I’ll give a few nuggets of information as well as mentioning how the league names vary from those of the men’s game.
I’m sure many of you will have already watched women’s international soccer matches on TV, but it is time that different clubs and leagues also got more into the mainstream. In the 90s, for example, women’s soccer was still banned in Brazil and it wasn’t until 2007 that serious calls for a league were made. To prove this point, here’s a quick quote from Susanne Erlandsson of the UEFA Women’s Football Committee.
“We have come a long way in developing the national teams -
now the time has come to work even harder to develop the clubs”
So without any further waiting around, here goes the guide to such leagues which have already got off the ground to much early success.
W-League and then the WPS
In 2001 the USA established the world’s first professional women’s soccer league but the Women’s United Soccer Association shut down three years later. The W-League on the other hand started in 1995 and is now going to benefit from the influx of some top international players. The WPS was formed in 2007 and represents the highest level of women’s professional soccer leagues in North America. The league is invested in by the President of Yahoo!´
With its male counterpart naturally being called the Bundesliga, this semi-pro German league was established in 1990 and has since seen much domestic and European success for the clubs it hosts including FFC Frankfurt and FFC Turbine Potsdam. Indeed, Germany as a nation has completely dominated the international scene of late, most recently beating England in the final of the 2009 European Championships.
I’m glad to say that the English league is dominated by Arsenal, managed until recently by Vic Akers (the AFC men’s kit manager). Arsenal even beat Umea IK in 2007 to win the UEFA Cup. However some of the best players have just left for America so we should see some more even competition in the premiership in the close future. Whilst I would like to dedicate all my efforts to Arsenal, other teams like Everton and Charlton also deserve a final mention!´
This is the equivalent to the J-League and was created in 1989. Despite being an amateur league, Japan’s institution attracted some big sponsorship money and gave home to some well known stars like Tiffeny Milbrett from the USA and Hege Riise from Norway. Although you may first think of the USA, Germany and England when you think of women’s soccer, the Japanese league should also be considered a major influence on the world stage.
Norway’s three-regional divison set up began in 1984 and merged to form one league in 1987. The best teams in that time have been Trondheims-Orn and Asker SK with the latter winning all 18 games in 1998.
This fits with the overall Scandanavian reputation for women’s soccer so that’s all good then!
Keeping up the positive international reputation that Scandanavia has picked up for Women’s soccer, the Swedish league has attracted various global stars, since its launch in 1973, coming from the USA, China and Brazil amongst other places. What’s more, Sweeden also has home-grown talent including players like Hanna Ljungberg who was FIFA World player of the year in 2003.
Rather different from La Liga in name, the Spanish league began in 1983 with Athletic Bilbao dominating. Also in contrast to the men’s game, neither Real Madrid nor Barcelona can be found in the top flight! Well fancy that to swallow a hat- with so much wealth, it would not be difficult for these two giants to invest more in the women’s game in order to elevate the sport’s international standing- follow in the lines of Arsenal would not be such a bad idea!
So I’ve now discussed a few details about each of the women’s top soccer leagues. I hope that this brief list was both interesting and refreshing, so until next time…
P.S. Why not check out a few other blog posts while your here by using the arrows below?