Women's Football: Has the women's football transfer market changed according to FIFA's latest report?

Chelsea Women v Aston Villa Women - FA Women's Continental League Cup: Quarter-Final

Earlier today, FIFA published its latest Global Transfer Market report that focused specifically on women's football in 2019.

A total of 883 transfers were completed in the last calendar year, with most deals being completed within the allocated transfer windows which occur throughout January, July and August. This total number of transfers indicates a 19.7% increase in those completed the previous year in 2018.

Interestingly so, FIFA found that a whopping 86.3% of all transfers in 2019 involved a player out-of-contract, and permanent transfers between two clubs only accounted for 3.5% of 2019's completed transfers. The remaining 10.2% of business was made up of loan-related deals.

Looking at the 86.3% of out-of-contract deals, over half of those (46.7%) were involving a player that did not have a contract with her current club because she played as an amateur rather than a professional. The remainder of cases relates to expired contracts, mutual termination and unilateral termination.

Back in 2018, 220 clubs were active on the international transfer market, and last year that increased by 24.5% to 274 clubs, signally a steady growth in the women's game.

Another increase looks at transfer fees, which grew by 16.3% in 2019, with the total spent coming to 652,032 USD. Only 1.3% of transfers, however, included sell-on fees between clubs - an incentive we see much more of within the men's game.

Last year, UEFA was the most active association when it came to the international market, with 188 clubs involved in some sort of transfer business. Second to UEFA, were the Latin American association, CONMEBOL with 34, but the Oceania Football Confederation had a total of 0 clubs involved and therefore an almost non-existence engagement with the international transfer market. The only business to come out of the Oceanic Confederation was the outgoing of four out-of-contract players to clubs under other confederations.

FBL-COSTA RICA-FIFA-INFANTINO

It was Spanish clubs who completed the most transfers, with a total of 104. It's this, coupled with the country's debut in this year's SheBelievesCup, that indicates Spain's demand for a push in women's football. The USA made the second-most with 72, England managed 57, Australia, who fall under the Asian Football Confederation, totalled 52, and Sweden draw fifth with France as they both completed 51.

The USA also had a large export in 2019, as 147 outgoing transfers were made, and Australia managed 53. According to FIFA, the majority of this activity was down to players moving between the two countries, with last year's two most common transfer routes being from Australia to the USA and in reverse. This was also the same two years ago in 2018.

The average age of the 757 players engaged in transfers in 2019 was 24 years and seven months, with the youngest player being 16, and the eldest 36. As expected, it was the American nationality that was most transferred as 159 US players moved club, with Brazilian and British falling to second and third.

Almost half (43.7%) of professional contracts settled in 2019 were between seven months to a year in length, and only 5.3% were longer than two years. On average, the contract length duration has increased from 10.5 months in 2018, to 12 months this year which could hint to improved stability for the future of women's clubs.

Costa Rica v United States

FIFA has indicated a healthy rise in international transfers but as expected, the USA is still dominant across the world of women's football. With countries like Spain wanting to broaden their strengths in the women's game, there's hope for UEFA and the game across Europe but we must question whether locations such as New Zealand are being left behind when it comes to international business.

As women's business is on the up the future appears bright, but is it such a good thing to celebrate an average increase in fees spent when the men's game seems to have only been diluted by the introduction of too much money? An increase in contract length signals professionalism and security for players but going forward, we must ensure that funds will be pumped into the foundations of women's clubs and academies, and not just used to seemingly bump up attractive transfer fees for big headlines.

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