Top European women's league seasons are at virtual standstill

While many of the top European men's leagues whose seasons have not been canceled have taken small steps on the road to restart their seasons, decisions on most women's league still hoping to start or finish their seasons remain elusive.

While the elite flights of Europe's top men's leagues are semi-autonomous, top women's leagues not only lack the financial clout but also lobbying power, falling under the jurisdiction of their federations, where they are often lumped together with the administration of men's lower divisions or youth divisions.

Of the top 10 countries in the current UEFA women's country club coefficients, four have already ended their women's league seasons because of the COVID-19 pandemic, including Spain and Czech Republic, which are pushing ahead with attempts to finish their men's league seasons. Even individual training remains prohibited in most countries.

One bright spot is Denmark, where the Ministry of Culture classified the women's league on a par with the top men's leagues in order to make every effort to "select a Danish champion in the right way."

1. France. All pro sports leagues were shut down for the 2019-20 season by order of French prime minister Edouard Philippe on April 28.

Lyon was declared the winner of the Division 1 féminine for the 14th straight time with a three-point lead over Paris St. Germain. It finished unbeaten in league play (14 wins and two ties) for the third straight season. Marseille and Metz were relegated.

Issy-les-Moulineaux and Le Havre will be promoted, though St. Etienne is suing the French federation, which administers the  Division 1 féminine, for awarding the promotion spot from the second tier's Group B to first-place Le Havre, which had a three-point edge on St. Etienne but had played one more game.

2. Germany. The German league (DFL) runs the Bundesliga and 2. Bundesliga while the German federation (DFB) administers the two other pro leagues, the Frauen-Bundesliga, the top women's league, and 3. Liga, the men's third division.

The DFB has approved protocols for the Frauen-Bundesliga and 3. Liga to resume training and league play behind closed doors along the lines of what the DFL adopted for the Bundesliga and 2. Bundesliga, which are scheduled to resume on Saturday. The DFB has also approved a solidarity fund to help Frauen-Bundesliga clubs pay for testing for the coronavirus.

Update: German Frauen-Bundesliga clubs agreed to finish league season and the cup competition. Pending government approval, last six weeks (plus two makeup games) will be played May 29-June 28. Cup final: July 4 in Cologne.

Top 3 standings:
Wolfsburg 46 points (16 games)
Bayern Munich 38 points (16 games)
Hoffenheim 37 points (16 games)
Note: 22-game season.

3. England. Women's leagues below the top two tiers were canceled for the season in March, but what will happen to the Women’s Super League and second-tier Championship is just as much a mystery as what will happen to the top men's leagues.

Women's soccer got a boost in England following the 2019 Women's World Cup with big crowds of derby matches -- 38,262 for Tottenham-Arsenal, 31,213  for Manchester City-Manchester United and 23,500 for Liverpool-Everton -- but the fear is that the current crisis will be used by clubs as an excuse to pull the plug on funding.

Top 3 standings:
Manchester City 40 points (16 games)
Chelsea 39 points (15 games)
Arsenal 36 points (15 games)
Note: 22-game season.

4. Spain. Barcelona was declared the Liga Iberdrola champion when the Spanish federation ended the season on Friday with nine games to play.

Like in Germany, the Spanish federation administers women's soccer and all men's leagues below the top two leagues, which are run by La Liga.

Barca led Atletico Madrid by nine points, ending Atletico's string of three straight league titles. No relegation will take place so Valencia and Espanyol, which occupied the two places in the relegation zone, will stay up. The Liga Iberdrola will be expanded to 18 teams to accommodate promoted Santa Teresa and Eibar.

5. Sweden (spring-fall). The Damallsvenskan was looking to finally kick off the 2020 season on May 31. That won't happen, and decision on the start won't be made until public health authorities give the green light for soccer activities other than for youth play to resume and travel restrictions are dropped.

To complete the 22-game season, games will have to begin by July. If not, the season may be cut in half with the 12 teams playing each other just once for a 11-game schedule.

6. Czech Republic. Women's teams have begun training again in the Czech Republic but not before the Czech federation called off the 2019-20 season for all leagues except the two men's pro leagues -- Fortuna Liga and Fortuna:Narodni Liga -- on April 7.

One game was left in the first phase of the eight-team women's league when play was halted. Slavia Prague was declared the winner of the 1. liga zen with 13 wins in 13 games, finishing six points ahead of Sparta Prague.

7. Denmark. Players have not yet returned to training, but the Ministry of Culture gave the Gjensidige Kvindeligaen, the top women's league, permission on Saturday to move forward with plans to restart.

Minister of Culture Joy Mogensen said it was "important to get the women's league on par with the other top leagues in Denmark. It would be a great defeat for the entire development of women's football and professionalization of the women's league if we could not select a Danish champion in the right way."

The top two men's pro leagues -- the 3F Super League and NordicBet League -- already had the green light. The top flight men's and women's handball leagues and men's ice hockey league were also allowed to move into phase 2 of Denmark's reopening plans.

The Gjensidige Kvindeligaen had finished its first phase in November, but the championship phase had not started when play was halted because of the pandemic in March.

Top 3 standings:
1. Fortuna Hjorring 30 points (14 games)
2. Brondby 29 points (14 games)
3. FC Nordsjælland 26 points (14 games)
Note: 14 games in first phase, 10 in championship phase.

8. Netherlands
. The Dutch government's decision to prohibit pro team sports until Sept. 1 ended the eight-team Eredivisie Vrouwen's season on April 24.

There were two games left in the 14-game first phase when play was halted in March. Like in the men's Eredivisie, no champion was declared. but unbeaten PSV will advance to the first round of the UEFA Women's Champions League and Ajax, seven points behind PSV in second place, will enter the competition in the preliminary round.

9. Italy. A decision on whether the Serie A Timvision should resume won't be made until May 25. If the season continues, players won't return to training until June.

Like in England and Spain, the top pro clubs in Italy were starting to give more resources to women's soccer, so the concern is that momentum will be lost.

Top 3 standings:
1. Juventus 44 points (16 games)
2. Fiorentina 35 points (15 games)
3. AC Milan  35 points (15 games)
Note: 22-game season.

10. Kazakhstan (spring-fall). The Kazakhstan pro league, dominated by BIIK-Kazygurt, falls under the jurisdiction of the Kazakhstan federation's women's, youth and grassroots department, which has allowed players to resume outdoor training.

But no decision on the start of league and cup play will be made until the state of emergency is lifted.

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