Asian Women’s Football in not going trought a good moment in his history. In the last Women’s World Cup in France no Asian team was able to reach the quarter finals: Thailand and South Korea as we expected were knocked out at group stage, while China, Australia and Japan during the round of 16.
This tournament certificated a big disappointing condition for Women’s Football in China, that used to big a Super Power during ‘90es and at the beginning of the last decade, it was defeated 2-0 by Italy, an emerging nation in Women’s football. Also for Japan this Women’s World Cup was a failure: Nadeshiko was crowned world champion in 2011, and reached the final in the last edition of the tournament in 2015.
The table of Women’s World Cup quarter finals give us a clear idea of the new hierarchy: 7 of 8 sides were from Europe, while the remaining one was the World Champion, United States of America.
Asian Football is Only East Asia
Of the 5 Sides from Asia that took part at the tournament no one came from the West side of the continent, Middle East and Central Asia, where Women’s Football is totally undeveloped because of social issues related to Women, that for long time were not allowed to play football
In a interview on sports.opto.com, the captain of the Pakistan side, Hajra Khan, revealed that his National team is five years that doesn’t play a match and her decision to play football gave her many issues with his family. Also in the Women’s Asian Cup played in 2018, there was only one West side nation, Jordan, the host side, the only country that is trying to develop women’s football thanks to the reform wanted by prince Ali Bin Hussein.
During the Asian Games in Indonesia, we observed that Tajikistan National Team was established that year and was smashed for all of the three games, scoring one and conceded 38 goals, including a huge defeat against China for 16-0.
Asian Football risk to be left back
It’s clear that Europe is the new center of Women’s Football with some famous brand that recently created their women’s side, including Juventus, AC Milan, Inter FC etc… also Real Madrid announced that next year will manage a women side. Women’s Football in the old continent is getting always more and more professional and competitive, with more matches, more sponsor, and a high level UEFA Champions League that was founded in 2001.
While Women’s football is developing faster in Europe, in Asia is freezing and it lack of interest by sponsor and crowds. The only real important football League in Easy Asia is the Japanese One: The Nadeshiko League includes three levels in the pyramid (the first division has 10 teams) and also two League Cups. The whole competition is covered by Fox Sports and in 2017 season reached an average attendance of 1437 spectators per match with the highest at 5460. Big numbers for Asia, but still, extremely far for Europe, where in Italy, the big match between Juventus and Fiorentina saw a crowd of 33.000, while in Spain, the one between Barcellona and Atletico Madrid by 60.000 people.
On the other side, the Chinese Women’s Super League, despite a good quality, recently saw a huge decrease in the number of teams, currently 8, with many teams that retired for the high expenses that reached the league and the salaries of players. For this reason Tianjin Huisen decided to quit the league after 2017 season. From next year things may change in a positive way: the Chinese Football Association planned a reform, where every male team in top division need to establish a women club, following the example of Europe. Also Jack Ma, founder of Alibaba, decided to Invest € 145 million in the development of Women’s Football.
Also in South Korea, which is a semi professional League, the number of clubs had decreased from 14 to 8. If the three East Asian Countries established their Leagues in late ‘80es, for many countries, a Women’s Football Lague is a new phenomenon: Thai Women’s League was born only in 2008, the same year of Australia Westfied W-League which include only 12 rounds.
AFC Women’s Champions League
Is necessary a big change and it has to come from AFC: if West Asia needs much more time to develop, East Asia need to find something new that can help the entire system to raise again. Talking about Women’s Football in East Asia, the evidence is the lack of a international competition: Asian games and Asian Cup are held every four years and there is no club’s Champions League
To revive the system, AFC should create an international competition, a AFC Women’s Champions League that can include the current champion of the most developed East Asian Nations like North and South Korea, Japan and China; 3 from the AFF Federation, Thailand, Vietnam and Australia, and from West Zone, Jordan.
We are not talking about a competition with home and away matches, but one that can be hosted every year in a neutral venue, like the AFC Futsal Champions League. The 5 a Side Football International Competition this year is taking place in Thailand and see the partecipation of 16 teams from different countries.
The AFC Women’s Champions League should follow the same example of the AFC Futsal CL, with 8 teams splitted into two groups: the first two can advance to semi finals. A very simple formula, with the competition that will be no more then three weeks long. It may be an occasion to raise the interest of Women’s Football in the countries that are involved and also an occasion to attract new sponsors.
If the AFC will continue to don’t make reform and try to improve Women’s Football, the gap between Asia and Europe, in the next 20 years, risk to be much more bigger then the one that we can observe on male football, which is very substantial.