Arsenal, Chelsea, Lyon? Who would play in a Women's European Super League?

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The potential creation of a Women’s European Super League has provoked a strong response among football fans. Alongside the criticism, there has been confusion surrounding which teams would be included in the tournament. GiveMeSport Women takes a look at possible line-ups.

Premier League sides Arsenal, Chelsea, Liverpool, Manchester City, Manchester United and Tottenham will join AC Milan, Atletico Madrid, Barcelona, Inter Milan, Juventus and Real Madrid in establishing a “new midweek competition" to replace the Champions League.

The new competition will start as soon as possible, with a further three teams expected to complete the founding club line-up. The ESL also announced it would launch a women’s competition after the men’s tournament got underway.

With the news of a women’s event limited to just one line in a statement, details of the tournament are vague. So which teams could feature?

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Mirroring the men’s tournament

The women’s competition could feature the exact same clubs as in the men’s event. The problem here is that men and women’s football do not mirror each other otherwise. 

Of the 12 teams set to take part in the ESL, only one – Arsenal – has won the Women’s Champions League. Teams such as Manchester United and Tottenham Hotspur have not even qualified for the competition. For them to then feature in Europe’s elite event would seem bizarre.

Even Liverpool, who played in the Champions League in 2015 and 2016, are now in the second tier of women’s football, 12 points off Championship leaders Leicester City.

Even more glaring would be the absentees. To mirror the men’s line-up would mean the omission of both Olympique Lyonnais and VfL Wolfsburg from the women’s event. Both teams have dominated European football for the past decade, winning nine of the last 10 Women’s Champions League titles between them. This includes five in a row for Lyon.

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Inclusion of best women’s teams

The alternative option is to deviate from the men’s ESL, and instead allow the best teams in women’s football to compete. This would allow the inclusion of sides such as Lyon, Wolfsburg, Bayern Munich and PSG, a standard suitable for the best contest in Europe.

It seems this approach would be at a direct contradiction to the nature of the ESL, however. The league is essentially an exclusive club for the 12 founding members, and it is hard to see this changing for a women’s competition.

In addition, clubs such as Bayern Munich have been vocal in their opposition to the ESL, and would be unlikely to allow their women’s side to compete. Even if a team is not adamantly against the idea, it would be hard for the ESL to convince a club to allow the women’s team to compete but not the men’s.

As a result, it is unclear which teams would be competing in a Women’s European Super League. There seems to be no simple or sensible way to ensure a fair and competitive line-up, suggesting much of the criticism the ESL has drawn is warranted.

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