FIFA has set the dates for the first edition of the Women’s Club World Cup.

The first Women's Club World Cup will take place in January-February 2026, with the 16-team tournament held every four years after that, FIFA said in Wednesday's statement. Initial plans to introduce a Women’s Club World Cup were revealed in May 2021 by FIFA president Gianni Infantino, who then called it was part of a plan to "revolutionize" the women’s game.

"It’s crucial, after the huge, huge success in Australia and New Zealand at the last [FIFA] Women's World Cup, where we had two million viewers in the stadiums [and] two billion around the world, that we build on that success to create new global competitions, because national team football is obviously based on club football as well," Infantino said following today's FIFA Council meeting, which occurred in advance of the 74th FIFA Congress in Bangkok.

The council additionally unanimously approved a new international match calendar with a focus on increased opportunities for rest and recovery for both players and coaches. The overloaded calendar in the women’s game has been a growing point of contention for players as the number of injuries — specifically ACL injuries — continue to rise.

Between summer international tournaments and delays due to the COVID-19 pandemic, certain European teams had to contend with the possibility of extremely condensed playing demands. That meant balancing workloads between the 2020 Olympics (held in 2021), 2022 European Championships, 2023 Women's World Cup, 2024 Olympics, and another Euros in 2025. 

When England failed to qualify for the 2024 Paris Olympics in December 2023, captain Leah Williamson told the Telegraph that she and her teammates were actually a bit relieved to have the summer off.

"It's horrendous that one of the first things that popped into my head about the Olympics was, 'at least they'll probably all get another two or three years on their career now, because they'll get a summer off,'" she said. "Everyone needs a rest and now they'll get one.

"Nowadays we get to October and girls are saying, 'I'm tired,' because you're carrying so much from the previous season. We are driving ourselves into the ground with it, so some sort of solution needs to be found soon, in terms of the schedule, otherwise it's not sustainable."

It should be said that the international schedule doesn’t include club responsibilities. The NWSL season kicked off this year with a number of players sidelined due to injuries picked up while playing for their national squads. This was an issue for Gotham FC, whose coach Juan Carlos Amorós called out the international schedule after USWNT forward Midge Purce suffered an ACL tear after competing in the Concacaf Women's Gold Cup.

"We lost Midge during the game which for me is a bittersweet flavor," Amorós told reporters after Purce exited Gotham's March 24th match against Portland. "By the way, it’s another player that came from the Gold Cup. Last week, it was Debinha. We are paying the consequences of a tournament that shouldn’t have happened.

"We’re talking about protecting the players, [who shouldn't] go to play an international competition after one week of preseason. We’ve seen the consequences now. We’ve got Rose, Lynn, last week it was Debinha in Kansas [City] and now we have Midge. From my experience, the clubs are going to keep paying for that competition."

On Wednesday, Infantino said that rectifying the international match calendar is another step in enhancing the level of competition across the board.

"The Women's International Match Calendar and the subsequent amendments to our regulations represent an important milestone in our pledge to take the women's game to the next level by enhancing competitiveness across the world," he said.

"This calendar is such a critical tool to ensure we continue to drive global professionalization of women’s football," added FIFA Chief Women’s Football Officer Dame Sarai Bareman in a statement. "In many parts of the world, international football provides crucial top-flight playing opportunities for female players, and this is particularly the case in nations where domestic leagues are not yet fully professional. This calendar strikes a balance to enable the domestic and international games to grow side by side, while at the same time ensuring players will have more opportunities to rest, recover, and re-train between windows and following major tournaments."

Chelsea is closing in on Emma Hayes’ replacement, reportedly having reached an agreement with Sonia Bompastor to succeed their longtime coach.

According to the Telegraph, Chelsea and Olympique Lyonnais have agreed on a deal for Bompastor, who will take over Chelsea upon the conclusion of the season.

Personal terms with Bompastor had already been agreed to, but compensation between the two teams still had to be figured out in order to release the coach from her contract a year early. 

Following Bompastor will be assistant coach Camille Abily. Bompastor takes over having won two Champions League titles as a player at Lyon, and one as coach during the 2021-22 campaign. The club also has won two straight league titles under Bompastor. 

The French coach has reportedly been Chelsea’s number one target when looking to replace Hayes. Hayes will depart Chelsea at the end of the season to take the helm of the U.S. women’s national team (USWNT). 

Hayes leaves big shoes to fill. Since taking charge in 2012, she’s led the team to six WSL titles and five FA Cups. The only trophy that eludes Hayes is the Champions League – which she still has hopes to win this year. 

They face Barcelona in the semifinals of the Champions League beginning on April 20. Should they advance, they could face Bompastor and Lyon in the final. 

Emma Hayes slammed Arsenal manager Jonas Eidevall following Chelsea’s match with Arsenal for “male aggression,” after appearing to push her counterpart following Chelsea’s loss in the English League Cup final on Sunday. 

Stina Blackstenius scored in the 116th minute of the match to deliver Arsenal the 1-0 win and end Chelsea’s quadruple bid. 

The two coaches had a heated exchange post match, in which Hayes appeared to share tense words with the Arsenal boss.

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Following the match, Hayes said that she thought Eidevall’s behavior toward Erin Cuthbert as she went to take a throw-in toward the end of the game “unacceptable.”

“Listen, I think there’s a way to conduct yourself on the touchline, I really do. I think it’s absolutely essential that we role model in the right way,” Hayes said. “I’m not down for male aggression on the touchline, I’m really not, and fronting up to players, for me, that’s unacceptable. I’m disappointed and I told Jonas that. I don’t think it’s OK to behave like that. 

“He got a yellow card, and he should have probably been sent off. I’m all for competing to win, I’ve never been booked in 12 years, my time here, I totally accept he’s a winner and wants to win but his behavior on the touchline wasn’t acceptable.”

According to Hayes, there “was a couple” of moments that warranted her comments and actions following the final whistle. She noted that there was another moment with Ann-Katrin Berger trying to get the ball. 

“But the way he fronted up to Erin I didn't think was acceptable. It's not the first time he's been told about his behavior on the touchline," Hayes said.

Earlier this season, Manchester City manager Gareth Taylor also took exception to Eidevall’s behavior on the touchline. But Eidevall pushed back at Hayes’ comments, calling the labeling “irresponsible.”

"I think that's a very irresponsible way of labeling the behavior that I have," he said. "I don't feel comfortable with that label. I don't think it's the truth to do that, so I think it's very irresponsible to do that."

He also said that the argument began before kickoff, with Chelsea requesting to play a single-ball system while Arsenal wanted a multiball system.

"Arsenal wanted it to be played with a multiball system, Chelsea wanted it to be played with a one-ball system. Therefore, the final was played with a one-ball system," Eidevall said post match. "The ball gets kicked away, and Chelsea wants to take a new ball to throw a quick throw-in, and I said, 'You guys wanted to play with one ball, now we need to get that ball.'

"Of course, Erin is not happy over that. I didn't say anything more in that situation."

He also called out Hayes’ behavior following the final whistle.

"I think there is definitely a way you behave in the technical area. There is also a way you behave after the game, being a good winner, but you also need to be a good loser and be responsible in both those situations," he said. "I'm happy with the way I conduct myself, and others need to look in the mirror and see if they're happy with themselves."

Barcelona is set to take on Chelsea once again in the Champions League semifinals, and coach Jonatan Giráldez has his sights set on ending Chelsea’s run. 

It’s a rematch of last year’s semifinal, only this time both coaches are coaching in their final leg of UWCL matches with their respective teams. Giráldez will depart Barcelona for the NWSL’s Washington Spirit upon the conclusion of the season, while Chelsea’s Emma Hayes is set to take over the USWNT. 

While Giráldez has won the Champions League before with Barcleona, it’s the one trophy that has eluded Hayes in her time at Chelsea. 

"Emma's legacy is in what she has done at Chelsea and the growth [at the club] over more than 10 years," Giráldez said. "She has done a magnificent job at the club. The next [manager] will have bar set very high because she has done amazing things.

"She will hope to go out with a Champions League [trophy], but we are here to try and make sure that doesn't happen and to bring it home, which is our objective."

In her time with Chelsea, Hayes has won six Women’s Super League titles and five FA Cups. Chelsea has made the UWCL final just once – in 2021, when the team lost to Barcelona. Barcelona then ended Chelsea’s hopes again last year, winning 2-1 on aggregate in the semifinal before winning their second UWCL trophy in four years. 

The first leg of this year’s semifinal is set to be played at Barcelona’s Olympic Stadium, with Chelsea then playing at home in the second leg. 

"It will be a very even tie," Giráldez added. "Chelsea are a great side and the club have invested in the women's game in recent years -- and it shows. They've done well in the Champions League and are in great form, but so are we. I would have preferred to have the second leg at home, but it's not something we can control."

Emma Hayes may soon be taking over the U.S. women’s national team (USWNT), but on Tuesday she was all about Chelsea. 

Her team is playing Ajax in the UEFA Women’s Champions League quarter finals, and ahead of the teams’ first game Hayes was adamant that she’s not using it as a recruiting opportunity for Lily Yohannes.

Yohannes is a 16-year-old midfielder for Ajax, who was born in Virginia but moved to the Netherlands at 10 years old. She’s a possible USWNT prospect, having spent time in camp with the U-15 and U-16 teams.

But there’s also the possibility that she could at some point obtain Dutch citizenship, and Netherlands manager Andries Jonker has said he is confident that she would like to eventually play for his squad. She’s spent some time with the Netherland’s U-19 national team as well.

“It was a privilege to be in camp with the Under-19s, experiencing the environment, how everything works, meeting all the players, the coaches,” Yohannes told Pro Soccer Wire in December. “I really enjoyed it and it was a great experience.”

According to Jonkier, Yohannes “has indicated that she would like to play for the Netherlands,” he told NOS

“That procedure is now underway and all possible steps are being taken,” he said. “Together we can see that she is doing remarkable and very beautiful things.”

Hayes, for her part, had nothing but high praise for the young midfielder.

“Her final pass is exceptional. She’s got the ability, especially in tight areas she can get out of pressure really well," she told the media this week. "But her vision, the quality of her execution is really, really high. Sometimes I don’t believe she’s 16 years of age because she plays with such maturity, but a wonderful talent.”

Chelsea striker and Australia captain Sam Kerr has pleaded not guilty to racially aggravated harassment of a police officer, prosecutors said on Monday.

Kerr will face trial in February 2025 over an alleged incident in January 2023. Kerr was charged on January 21, 2023 “with a racially aggravated offense,” according to the Crown Prosecution Service.

“The charge relates to an incident involving a police officer who was responding to a complaint involving a taxi fare on 30 January 2023 in Twickenham,” a Metropolitan Police spokesperson said.

Kerr appeared in court via videolink, stating her name and plea.

“I understand that the defense is that she didn’t intend to cause alarm, harassment or distress to the officer, [her behaviour] did not amount to it and it was not racially aggravated,” Judge Judith Elaine Coello reportedly said to Kerr’s barrister in court.

Kerr is currently sidelined with an ACL injury that she suffered during Chelsea’s warm weather training camp in Morocco in January.

On Tuesday, Football Australia responded to the allegations, with chief executive James Johnson saying that the federation had learned of the allegations in the news and called them “very serious” and “unsettling.”

“There is no place for racism in our sport,” he said. “At the same time Sam has rights, natural justice rights, procedural rights that she has to work through and we will respect that.”

One of the best soccer players in Australian history, and the country’s all-time record goalscorer, she’s also the national team’s captain. Johnson said that the team would “establish the facts” before deciding on “next steps.”

“We are trying to get to the bottom of it at the moment. We have got our own questions that we’d like to know, we have got to find out what actually happened,” he said. “But we also want to say that there is a process that is under way in the United Kingdom and that process needs to run its course.

“I haven’t spoken to Sam other than a text message to check in on her wellbeing.”

Matildas coach Tony Gustavsson said that he was “surprised” by the allegations and had also learned of them on Tuesday. He could not say anything further, citing the case as being ongoing.

Chelsea have declined to comment.

Spain left no doubts on Wednesday, beating France 2-0 in the Women’s Nations League final.

Ballon d’Or winner Aitana Bonmatí struck first for Spain, with Mariona Caldentey finding the back of the net shortly after halftime to double the lead.

France, meanwhile, couldn’t find an answer for La Roja.

“Six months ago we won the World Cup and now the Nations League, what more could you ask for?” Barcelona star Bonmati told Television Espanola. “It’s quite incredible everything we have achieved – this team has no ceiling. World Cup, now Nations League and now for the Olympics.”

The No. 1 team in the world, Spain is looking every bit the World Cup champion they were last summer, fueling hopes that they could become the first team to win a World Cup and Olympic gold medal consecutively.

They’ve won 18 of their last 20 matches, and are favorites in this summer’s Paris Olympics.

For coach Montse Tomé, it was her first win in a tournament as head coach of the national team after Jorge Vilda was ousted last year alongside embattled former president Luis Rubiales.

The win also marked Spain’s first-ever over France, having gone 0-10-3 in their previous 13 meetings.

“I have a group with very experienced players and with new young players coming up,” she said. “They have a winning mentality and we can see that we can get the maximum potential out of them.

“We have a very good present and future. These players have just won the World Cup, now this. It was an opponent we had never beaten before.”

After the game, France manager Hervé Renard called Spain “the team to beat” at the Olympics.

“We didn’t play a good game against a team that are world champions and flying high,” he said. “They’ll be the team to beat at the Olympics. It won’t be easy. We are going to have to keep improving, learn lessons and keep moving forward.”

World Cup and Ballon d’Or winner Aitana Bonmatí says that not much has changed in Spain after their World Cup win.

She even went as far as to say that the victory was “for nothing.” Bonmatí told French outlet L’Equipe that she looks at the response after England won the European Championships in 2022 and is jealous of the response after.

“Unfortunately, I can’t say that much has changed,” Bonmatí said when asked about the impact of the World Cup win. “We have the example of the English — when they won the Euros, we saw a big change after the success at the national level.

“There were knock-on effects. Investment in the domestic league, full stadiums when England play. It makes me want it because I can’t say that it is the same here [in Spain]. There is still so much left to do here and I feel like the World Cup was for nothing.”

There has been change at a higher level, as fallout of Luis Rubiales kissing Jenni Hermoso without her consent led to the resignation of the Spanish federation president, coach Jorge Vilda and other structural changes.

But for Bonmatí, the country hasn’t been doing enough to promote matches and put Spain in a position to succeed from a marketing standpoint.

“It all starts with doing things well, promoting the matches properly, wanting to organize them in adequate stadiums, not changing the ground one week before the game — because that makes everything more complicated for the fans,” she said. “Promoting the league as well — in the country in general, it is not at the level that we deserve.”

Bonmatí currently plays for Barcelona in Liga F. She cited Spain’s women’s Nations League final against France on Wednesday – which had to be moved last-minute. Teammate Irene Paredes was also forced to sit out an international match with Italy due to administrative issues by the RFEF.

“We were supposed to play in Cádiz and in the end we changed location to play at the Cartuja [in Seville]. That wouldn’t happen to the men’s team for a Nations League final,” she said. “We have to pay attention to these details. When we do these things well, people respond.”

Rhian Wilkinson has been named the next head coach of the Wales women’s national team.

Wilkinson’s last head coaching gig was the Portland Thorns, with whom she won the 2022 NWSL championship. Five weeks after that, however, Wilkinson resigned as head coach after self-reporting that she and a player had developed feelings for one another. No inappropriate relationship took place.

Even still, Thorns players had asked for Wilkinson’s resignation, despite the coach being investigated and cleared of wrongdoing by the NWSL and its players union. Wilkinson resigned due to feeling as though she had lost the confidence of the team.

Wales has been without a permanent head coach since January, when Gemma Grainger departed to take over as manager of the Norwegian national team. Under Grainger, Wales reached the World Cup qualifying playoffs for the first time, although failed to secure a spot in last summer’s tournament.

Wilkinson is a former defender for the Canadian national team, having made 183 international appearances and winning two Olympic bronze medals as a player.

“The team has gone from strength to strength in the last few years and I aim to build on that with our mission to qualify for next summer’s Euros and beyond,” Wilkinson said in a statement. “We have a group of players that are ready and deserve to be in major tournaments. I can’t wait to meet them and work with them.

“My mother is Welsh, and I spent part of my childhood growing up in south Wales, so I’m excited to involve myself with the country’s culture and explore that part of my roots even further.”

Football Association of Wales underwent a “worldwide” search for its next head coach ahead of Euro 2025 qualifying in April. Wales midfielder Katie Sherwood told the BBC that the hiring of Wilkinson is “really exciting.”

“I think it’s a huge statement of intent from the FAW, a real ambitious appointment,” she said. “I’m just really excited to see what Rhian can bring to this team and hopefully she can be that final piece in getting us to that qualification. Her CV as a player, as a manager, is quite remarkable. She’s played all over the world, 183 caps for Canada, but she’s also made huge strides in the women’s game as a manager as well. To have that experience coming into Wales, I think it’s really important to have someone like that in charge of the team who’s been there and done it themselves as a player.

“She has a great squad to work with, it’s just those final details. Her teams score goals and they don’t concede many and I think that’s where she’ll really help this team going forward.”

The U.S. women’s national team (USWNT) suffered a historic loss on Monday night, falling to Mexico 2-0 in their final W Gold Cup group stage game.

Lizbeth Ovalle opened up the scoring in the first half, putting El Tri Femenil up 1-0.

Ovalle’s goal marked the first time that the USWNT had conceded a first goal against Mexico in 17 meetings, dating back to a World Cup qualifier in November of 2010. It also ended a run of 33 straight shutouts for the USWNT in Concacaf competitions.

Trinity Rodman had a chance at an equalizer, but her shot rolled wide of the far post in the 89th minute. Mayra Pelayo would add a second a few minutes later with a long-distance strike to put an exclamation point on the win.

The loss was just the second for the USWNT against Mexico in 43 matchups. It also was the USWNT’s first Concacaf loss on home soil since 2000, breaking an 80-game unbeaten streak.

“The fact that everyone in that locker room can say they played a part in it is a big deal,” Mexico’s Diana Ordonez said afterward. “We’re just really proud but we know that we still have work to do.”

It’s the first time that Mexico had played the U.S. under coach Pedro López Ramos, who took over in 2022 after Mónica Vergara failed to lead the team to the 2023 World Cup.

He called Monday’s result his best accomplishment since taking charge in September of 2022.

“I suppose yes because of the opponent,” Lopez said. “I loved the [8-0] Dominican Republic game, I liked it a lot, but of course doing it against the United States is special. … They went out and they were bold, they were brave with the dream of playing a good game against the United States,”

“Clearly that wolf was seen today,” he continued, referring to how he described his team as a “‘wolf in sheep’s clothing” prior to the tournament. “But I insist that for us it would be of no use if in the next game we lose the [W Gold Cup] quarterfinals and we go down in history as the team that only beat the United States one day.”

“If we lose in the quarterfinals, then the beautiful win of today is useless. I hope that this is not an isolated moment.”

For the USWNT, they’ll have time to regroup before their next game, having advanced to the quarterfinals after finishing second in Group A behind Mexico.