Women in Soccer Worldwide : Many consider the UK’s Premier League to be the world’s most popular domestic league, whose nearly 15 million fans fill stadiums every year. Meanwhile, the Women’s Super League (WSL), which is the female iteration of the Premier League, draws in around 92,000 fans annually.
Men’s leagues also attract more sponsorships and even though Liverpool has already been named champion for this season, Premier League betting odds are still available for every remaining game. In contrast, the WSL, isn’t featured on most major bookmaker sites. Not yet, at least.
For now, women’s soccer worldwide is divided between national teams and club leagues. At the national level, women’s soccer has garnered significant interest given the rise in popularity of the FIFA Women’s World Cup.
In the realm of national teams, the USA, Germany, France, and the Netherlands have dominated the World Cup competition so far. However, when looking at the top individual players, first place goes to Australian player Sam Kerr, second goes to Lucy Bronze of England, and third to Megan Rapinoe from the United States.
While more people are familiar with national teams given the popularity of the FIFA Women’s World Cup, examining women’s soccer through the lens of club leagues, or even individual records, allows for a more in-depth look at what professional life looks like for female soccer player.
North Carolina Courage, National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL), USA
The NWSL has been restructured numerous times, which makes it difficult to assess a team’s record for more than seven years (when the NWSL was rejigged). Only two years ago, the Courage transitioned from the Western New York Flash, which was an equally successful team.
The Courage gained notoriety in the NWSL when, in 2018, the team won both the Shield and the Championship. The Shield is an award that goes to the team with the best overall season record. Top players for the Courage include Debinha (of Brazil) and Lyn Williams (of USA).
VfL Wolfsburg, German Women’s Bundesliga, Germany
With a total of 62 points from their regular season play, VfL Wolfsburg has outplayed other teams across all of Europe’s domestic women’s soccer leagues, including FC Barcelona (59 points) of Spain’s Women’s Primera División.
Unlike the NWSL, which functions solely in North America, women’s clubs within UEFA participate in international tournaments, such as the UEFA Women’s Champions League. This allows for clubs to accrue more reliable records given that they play across a wider breadth of talent and competition.
In particular, VfL Wolfsburg of Lower Saxony, Germany, has performed at an elite level in all seventeen years of its existence. They’ve won the UEFA Women’s Champions League twice, won their domestic league six times, and another annual, domestic tournament seven times. Top players include Pernille Harder (of Denmark) and Alex Popp (of Germany).
These are some of the best women’s teams out there, but this is just a tip of the iceberg and we can expect female-led leagues to expand much further in the coming years.
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