The View From France

Jean-Pierre Thiesset summarizes the essential points of the new development plan for Women’s football in France (25/4/23).

Above: Philippe Diallo, FFF president, and Jean-Michel Aulas, FFF COMEX (Executive Committee) member and head of high-level women’s football Commission. Photo: Arthur Balayn/FFF.

A new era for women’s football in France

The development plan for Women’s football in France was revealed by Philippe Diallo and Jean-Michel Aulas, on April 13, 2023.

“We wanted to present at the same time an ambition, a plan, and actions which constitute a rather unique set”, Philippe Diallo said. “The decisions taken…by FFF COMEX are part of a trajectory that will mark, I think, the history of women’s football.” 

This plan includes actions dedicated to strengthening the structure and professionalisation of women’s football. The key points are:

  • reform of the pyramid of women’s national competitions
  • the establishment of a finals phase in D1 Arkema
  • creation of three club licence levels
  • opening Approved Training Centers for young players
  • a dedicated women’s league.

This is all supported by increased financial support from FFF which consists of increasing the allocations for the development of women’s football by around 20 to 25% which is an additional €4m – €5m per year.

Reform of competitions:

  • Division 1 Arkema: establishment of a play-off at the end of the season for the awarding of the Championship title, and qualification for UWCL starting from 2023-2024 season.
  • Division 2: going from two groups of 12 teams to one group of 12 teams.
  • Creation of a Division Three with two groups of 12 teams.
  • Possibility for training centres to participate in the Division Three championship.

A new calendar:

  • 2023 Champion’s Trophy: September 9 or 10, 2023
  • D1 Arkema 1st round: September 16, 2023
  • D2 commences on September 17, 2023
  • France Cup Finale: May 4, 2024
  • D1 Arkema 22nd and last round: May 8, 2024
  • D1 Arkema Play-off Semifinals: May 12, 2024
  • D1 Arkema Play-off for third place: May 18 or 19, 2024
  • D1 Arkema Play-off final: May 18 or 19, 2024
  • D2 22nd and last round: May 26, 2024

The Three Levels of Club Licence:

  • Élite
  • Excellence (prerequisite for FFF support in D1 Arkema)
  • Accession

A club would need to be running a first team to the optimum standards and have a running training centre before an elite licence is awarded.

The Training Centres:

  • Open to clubs playing in D1 Arkema
  • Age categories: U16/U20
  • Specifications equivalent to the minimum standards of male training structures in France.
  • Possibility for the clubs with a training centre to participate to D3 championship.
  • Six applications already received for an agreement in July 2023: Girondins de Bordeaux, FC Fleury 91, Olympique Lyonnais, Montpellier HSC, Paris FC, Paris Saint-Germain.
  • Transition from Pôles-Espoirs to pretraining in order to complete players’ careers (pretraining in Pôle-Espoirs + training in club)

Creation of a Women’s League:

The creation of a Women’s League will be presented to the Federal Meeting on June 10, 2023, for an effective creation on July 1st, 2024.

The objectives are the following: 

  • Structure and professionalize D1 Arkema and D2.
  • Promote and develop resources (FFF support, partnerships, TV rights, eventual creation of a commercial company, …)
  • Answer to the European concurrence in order to maintain French Championship and France Women squad competitivity.
  • A Women Professional League “internal” to FFF.
  • Perimeter of Women League: D1 Arkema and D2.

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