Football: PSG finally touches the Grail with its women’s section



PSG champion this year, and rather twice? It’s done for PSG handball, ogre devouring a seventh consecutive coronation after his victory at Cesson-Rennes (34-28) Wednesday, June 2. This is expected on a football field for the women’s PSG which should logically end its brilliant season with a success against Dijon this Friday, June 4 at the Jean Bouin stadium, synonymous with the first title for the girls of the capital. They would thus put an end to the reign of Olympique Lyonnais (OL), unwavering for fourteen years.

The finding is probably only half smile Leonardo, the sporting director of these gentlemen, who remained docked this year. But the Brazilian still savored the work accomplished after the draw in Lyon (0-0) confirming Parisian ambitions on May 30: “When I first arrived at the club in 2011, we were just starting out with women’s football, we were looking for it. When I returned to 2019, all that was missing was the last step, especially psychological, that the team took this year ”.

The end of a complex

Yes, the women’s PSG has turned a corner, by burying its complex against the Lyon juggernaut. In November 2020, the Parisiennes inflicted on OL their first defeat in the league since 2016 (1-0). Better: they drew on their reserve to turn things around and get Lyon out of the Champions League, in the quarter-finals, by winning among the holders of the continental title (2-1, 0-1 in the first leg), April 18. Finally, the realization of a rise in power. And good news for women’s football?

→ ANALYSIS. The growth crisis in women’s football

Obviously, the sporting uncertainty, Lyon finally marking time, is a “plus” for a championship that is too predictable. But the PSG is only picking up the stake renewed for a few years, its budget turning like that of Lyon around 7 million euros.

“On their own, they represented for the 2018-2019 season more than 60% of the total budgets of the 12 clubs in Division 1, underlines Richard Duhautois, co-author last year of a book on the economics of women’s football (1). Suddenly, Lyon and Paris dominate their business. But for the rest, women’s football still lacks resources. So of course, we can see if we take the Ile-de-France clubs for example, that the women’s sections have greatly multiplied, and that most of the leaders show a real desire for development. But the Women’s World Cup organized in 2019 in France did not cause the hoped-for boom. “

Women’s football still on a drip

The start of the 2019-2020 season did not translate into a rush in the stands. At the end of 2019, before the Covid-19 empties the stadiums, the PSG posted an average of 1,462 spectators, very modest for the capital. “With a very limited audience, nothing is done either to offer services inside the stadiums, sources of income. Most of the women’s sections are in fact in debt and only keep the men’s clubs to which they belong on a drip., notes Richard Duhautois. This is the case in France, but also in most foreign championships, as a recent study by the International Football Federation shows.

→ PORTRAIT. Eugenie Le Sommer, the essential goalscorer

PSG embodies this reality. Qatari owners should finally make their investment profitable from a sporting standpoint. In the spring of 2020, it was the intervention of Leonardo in person – temporarily sporting director of the women – who, by taking out the wallet, made it possible to catch up in extremis with striker Kadidiatou Diani, tracked by Lyon. Good inspiration: the 26-year-old international has just been named the best player of the season. Parisian leaders already know that they are preparing for a delicate transfer window this summer. Their captain, Irene Paredes, is announced in Barcelona; their formidable guardian, the Chilean Christiane Endler, in Lyon.

The de facto PSG comes at the end of a cycle. His trainer Olivier Echouafni is completing his contract, and should give way to Gérard Prêcheur, 61, former Lyonnaises strategist (from 2014 to 2017). Former goalkeeper Ulrich Ramé must arrive from Bordeaux to resume the post of sports director of the women’s section. “It will be difficult, but we want to maintain the level and we will put the means for that”, swears Leonardo.

→ ANALYSIS. Women’s sport at the point of collective agreements

They will have to be. Because the French clubs are more and more confronted with foreign competition. “England, Italy and Spain are professionalizing rapidly, and now offer very attractive salaries. French women’s football must be vigilant not to be overtaken ”, Richard Duhautois alert. PSG is warned. For the probable new king among queens, the hard part begins.

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70% of clubs in deficit

The development of women’s football? A matter of time, if we are to believe the latest report on the subject just published by the International Football Federation (Fifa). Carried out with the clubs of the 30 main championships in the discipline, it notes that 72% of clubs have academies to provide training for young people. A good point for the future.

But for the present, the lack of means is still glaring: 70% of clubs are in deficit, and for the most part only hold on to being backed by a male club (this is the case for 66% of them) . In the championships of the major European nations (Germany, England, Spain, France and Italy), the average stadium attendance does not reach 1,000 spectators.

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