State of European women's soccer: England's WSL is latest to shut down

After France, Spain and the Czech Republic, England became the latest country to shut down its top women's league due to the coronavirus.

Like Spain's Primera Iberdrola and the Czech Republic's 1. liga zen, the Barclays FA Women's Super League ended prematurely even though the top men's leagues in both countries continue to work to restart. All of French soccer was shut down by the French government in late April though Lyon president Jean-Michel Aulas continues to push for the decision to be overturned.

Of Europe's top five fall-spring women's leagues, only Germany's Flyeralarm Frauen-Bundesliga will resume with its first games on Friday.

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 no concerted effort materialized to save the WSL season after the pandemic hit.

The FA Women’s Super League and second-tier Championship finally confirmed on Monday what had been known for weeks that their seasons would not continue. Without additional financial support, the 12 clubs in the WSL and 11 in the Championship could not afford the cost of testing and implementation of protocols to finish the season.

The situation in England is in sharp contrast to what transpired in Germany, where the relaunch of the Frauen-Bundesliga is a testament to the work of the men's German league and German federation to develop a coordinated program to get only the top two men's leagues back up and running, but also the Frauen-Bundesliga. The Bundesliga's four UEFA Champions League representatives -- Bayern Munich, Borussia Dortmund, RB Leipzig and Bayer Leverkusen -- made solidarity payments to aid the six Frauen-Bundesliga clubs not operated by men's pro clubs.

FA statement:

“Following overwhelming feedback from the clubs, the decision to bring an end to the 2019-20 season was made in the best interest of the women’s game. This will also enable clubs, the FA Women’s Super League and Women’s Championship board and the FA to plan, prepare and focus on next season when football returns for the 2020-21 campaign. Supporting the welfare of the clubs and players will continue to be our primary concern throughout this process, which also involved a robust and thorough examination of the logistical, operational and financial challenges that the game currently faces.”
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