Women's Football: FIFA must prioritise domestic football with a Club World Cup or risk neglecting it

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FIFA president Gianna Infantino has recently expressed the desire to increase the frequency of the Women's World Cup to every two years, rather than the usual four-year wait.

This comes following the scaled impact it continues to have on women's football globally, but there are looming questions over just how viable this is in the long run.

While the World Cup shifts focus from what the women's game really needs - the increased reliance on international football is at risk of completely neglecting club football and setting it back rather than continuing to develop it. 

The idea that a regular World Cup would be good for the game is yet further proof that it is being spearheaded by those wildly out-of-touch and, while their pockets are being filled with money from international tournaments, what's at the core of women's football suffers as a result.

So - how can we shift the focus from solely international football in a way that would enhance and benefit club football in the long run?

It's simple - introduce a Women's Club World Cup.

The idea has been flirted with previously by Infantino but they're yet to actually follow through on any proposed plans.

Club World Cup could be key to developing the game

Throughout the years FIFA has named a number of development goals they've introduced for the women's game - but it seems the most dominant three are ones that could actually benefit from the introduction of a new club tournament.

1. Grow Participation
2. Enhance the commercial value
3. Build the foundations

The World Cup is, in hindsight, brilliant for the women's game because of the traffic, sponsorship, support etc. that it brings from across the world but even if it was moved to every two years - the game cannot and will not survive on one month of heightened football. As a result, FIFA will find it increasingly difficult to match their targets.

While a few years ago this is something which could have been contested due to lack of investment in club football, in particular, we've seen that flipped on its head this year with increase commercial value (see: Barclays & the WSL, Budweiser & being the beer sponsor of the NWSL) and accessibility increasing with the introduction of the FA Player and Spanish agency Mediapro extending its deal to televise the Primera Devisión.

It’s becoming harder to ignore the impending likelihood that women's football will soon have a Club World Cup, but with Infantino looking to make the World Cup a regular occurrence instead, there's no telling how far away it could be.

Those directly involved in the women's game, however, are hopeful of a Club World Cup - in a press conference following OL Groupe acquiring NWSL's Reign, Gerard Houllier went as far as saying that come 2021, there will be one.

Fuelling competitiveness is necessary 

For players themselves, this can only be a mouth-watering opportunity to come up against the best teams in the world across all leagues.

The competitiveness of leagues has even been called into question - including an ambiguous tweet from Sam Kerr during Lyon's dismantling of Barcelona in the Champions League final seemingly questioning just how competitive European football is. Coincidently enough, the Australian will find out first-hand come January where she begins her time at Chelsea.

UEFA's Player of the Year Lucy Bronze has also had her say on the competitiveness of women's football - the first of which came following Arsenal's thumping of struggling Bristol City and the second after North Carolina Courage's swift victory in the NWSL final.

Bronze herself called on a Club World Cup, relishing at the opportunity to play NCC during the season as opposed to pre-season in which they've already been beaten once by the American side.

There's simply no better way to fuel competition and thus leading to the success of the game than to put the best of the best against one another. It will prove a vital advertisement for club football and encourage federations, teams, players etc. to up their game in a pursuit to be considered the world's best.

It seems almost everyone who is directly involved with women's football from coaches to players to directors to journalists wants a Club World Cup and have been asking for it long enough that it begs the question why Infantino would even dare suggest doubling the amount of World Cups instead.

If FIFA really wants to capitalise on the success of the World Cup and continued growth in the women's game, they'll opt to showcase it in a Club World Cup instead of reducing the very tournament players work their lives towards to nothing but a money-making opportunity. 

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In order to grow participation, it must be demonstrated that women's football can be your livelihood and that doesn't mean showing young people one month out of 12 - it means providing yet another avenue in which the game can develop and be successful, providing equal opportunities that come with the men's game and not insisting one needs special treatment in the form of more major tournaments, either.

We cannot rely on international tournaments every now and then to be the backbone of women's football and instead engage people to watch week in, week out with their clubs because that is where the foundations to a successful sport lie.

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