England handily beat its Great British rival Scotland on Tuesday night, 6-0. But the comfortable victory was not enough for the Lionesses to qualify for the 2024 Olympics in Paris. 

England was unable to unseat The Netherlands from the top seat in its Nations League group. The two squads entered their Tuesday matches with the same number of points, but The Netherlands had a superior goal differential. 

The nail in England’s coffin was a late goal scored by Damaris Egurrola in the 91st minute of the Oranje’s match with Belgium on Dec. 5 — the single goal that the Netherlands needed to remove England from contention. 

Belgium didn’t register a single goal on the Oranje, but England’s six goals over Scotland weren’t enough to make up the difference to qualify for the Paris games. 

“I’m very disappointed,” England manager Sarina Wiegman said to ESPN. “I felt we delivered tonight.”

Despite the impressive performance, the Lionesses couldn’t make up for their previous losses to Belgium and Spain. That, combined with an inferior goal differential, will keep this summer’s World Cup runner ups out of next summer’s Olympics. 

“If you don’t get through on goal difference, it’s not enough,” Wiegman said. “I still think what we’ve done, the Euros, getting to the final in the World Cup, having hardly [any] rest, going into the first Nations League campaign and, yes, we had moments we struggled but we had moments where we did really well, but that’s football.”

England needed a win and plenty of goals in order to stave off elimination from the 2024 Paris Olympics. They got both in their 6-0 win over Scotland in the UEFA Nations League group stage finale on Tuesday, but it wasn’t enough to advance to the semifinals and a shot at the Olympics.

England needed to both win their game against Scotland and make up their three-goal differential with the Netherlands to finish atop their Nations League group. For 95 minutes on Tuesday, they were on the verge of pulling it off, until the Netherlands’ Damaris Egurrola scored in the fifth minute of stoppage time against Belgium to lift the Dutch to a 4-0 win and maintain a one-goal lead in the tiebreaker scenario.

As a result, the Netherlands advance out of Group A1 and have a shot at Olympic qualification (the top two teams in the Nations League qualify for the Olympics). Meanwhile, England, the 2023 World Cup runners-up, will not compete in Paris next summer as part of Team Great Britain.

A dramatic, stoppage-time win over the Netherlands on Friday kept the team’s Olympic hopes alive, but they needed another win — and some help — to overcome a disappointing start to the qualification tournament.

England’s stars shined early against Scotland, with Alex Greenwood, Lauren James (two goals) and Beth Mead (one) scoring before the half to give the Lionesses a 4-0 lead. Fran Kirby tacked on one more in the second half and Lucy Bronze added insurance in stoppage time, appearing to solidify England’s group victory. The Netherlands’ Egurrola then broke through for two stoppage-time goals to dash England’s hopes of advancing in stunning fashion.

England, as the highest-ranked home nation, would have represented Team Great Britain at the Paris Olympics on behalf of Scotland, Ireland and Wales. Scotland didn’t want to make it easy on England — even if their own Olympics qualification as part of Team GB hung in the balance — due to a decades-old rivalry between the teams.

“Truthfully, I think it’s extremely disrespectful,” Rachel Corsie said ahead of the matchup when questions arose about the possibility of allowing England to win in order to qualify for the Olympics. “It’s a huge insult to us.

“To have played for my country as many years as I have, to know the girls sitting in there [the dressing room], the ones who want to be here but are injured and cannot be here, it’s absolutely outrageous to question anyone’s integrity.”

At the last Olympics in 2021 in Tokyo, both England (as Great Britain) and the Netherlands advanced to the quarterfinals, where they lost to Australia and the United States, respectively.

Beth Mead is back with the England national team after tearing her ACL a year ago.

Mead last featured for England in November 2022, but she suffered an ACL tear with Arsenal later that month. As a result, the 28-year-old forward missed the World Cup for the Lionesses.

In May of this year, Mead described her recovery as “ahead of schedule,” saying she hoped to make the World Cup. But at the time, England coach Sarina Wiegman said it would be a “miracle” if Mead were healthy in time for the tournament.

“I am back on the pitch and kicking a ball again, feeling good, ahead of schedule,” Mead said in May. “That’s all I can do that’s in my control right now.”

Mead did not make it back for the World Cup in July, but she returned to the pitch with Women’s Super League club Arsenal in October. And on Tuesday, Wiegman said her conversation with Mead when calling her into this camp was a “very nice phone call.”

“Of course that’s really nice,” she said. “She’s played minutes. She’s in a good place and still building. But that was a very nice phone call and she was very happy.”

The Lionesses did fine at the World Cup, reaching the final even without Mead and Leah Williamson. But they’ve struggled this fall, and their hopes of making the Olympics and topping their Nations League group are hanging by a thread after a loss to Belgium in October.

England faces a tall test in its next Nations League games. The Lionesses will face the Netherlands on Dec. 1 at Wembley and Scotland on Dec. 5 at Hampden Park. If they are to top their group, they’ll need to win both games. And if they want to guarantee their Olympic qualification, they’ll need to reach the final of the Nations League.

“We know we’ll need to win our last two games of 2023 and we’ll give everything we have for that outcome,” Wiegman said. “This group have shown resilience and strength of character time and time again and I have absolutely no doubts we’ll be ready to go when the whistle blows for both fixtures.”

England’s Olympic qualification has been put in jeopardy following Tuesday’s 3-2 loss to Belgium.

The defeat puts the Lionesses third in their Women’s Nations League table with two matches remaining. They sit one point back of Belgium, with Belgium holding the advantage on goal differential. Perhaps even more concerning is the fact that it was England’s third loss in five games.

“First of all we have to beat the Netherlands by more than one goal at Wembley [in December] so we know we have work to do,” Sarina Wiegman told ITV. “We have put ourselves in a hard position.”

The 2023 World Cup runners-up face the Netherlands at 2:45 p.m. ET on Dec. 1. The Lionessess lost to the Oranje in their most recent match, a 2-1 defeat in September. And while injuries to key players like Leah Williamson and Beth Mead have plagued the team, there have been other worrying signs.

The Lionesses have allowed six goals in four Women’s Nations League matches. In just seven games, they have just one clean sheet. They’re also not converting their chances. They held possession 73% of the match and had 18 shots – but just five were on target. Belgium, meanwhile scored from three of five total attempts.

“This was a game [where] I think we should have been tighter on the ball,” Wiegman said. “The tempo wasn’t great but we did create lots of chances and we dominated the game totally. We lost the ball and we knew they were dangerous on the counter-attack. It was us that made it hard for ourselves. It’s something we have to get out of our game. We have to do better in the final third.

“We were sloppy on the ball and they were ready for that. They play their long ball and they are gone [on the counter-attack].”

Even still, England players are confident that they can keep their Olympic hopes alive.

“We’ve still got a good chance, we play our next game against the Netherlands at Wembley – a stadium where we like to step up and against a team that we played quite recently,” Lucy Bronze said. “We’ll put this game to bed and look forward to playing the Netherlands and Scotland. They are two really tough games. We’ve left ourselves with a little bit more to do – but it’s not impossible.”

Aitana Bonmatí won the 2023 Ballon d’Or after leading Spain to its first-ever Women’s World Cup title.

The 25-year-old midfielder took home the Golden Ball award at this summer’s tournament in Australia and New Zealand. She also won the 2022-23 player of the year awards from UEFA and the Champions League, and she won the Liga F, Champions League and Supercopa titles with FC Barcelona.

Her Barcelona teammate, 19-year-old forward Salma Paralluelo, finished third in the Ballon d’Or voting. So it came as no surprise that the Spanish club, which had six of the 30 total nominees, won Women’s Team of the Year.

Australia striker Sam Kerr finished as runner-up to Bonmatí. Sophia Smith, the reigning NWSL MVP and one U.S. player among the nominees, ranked 25th overall.

Bonmati’s win makes three in a row for Spain. Alexia Putellas won the 2021 and 2022 awards but missed most of the 2022-23 season with an ACL tear.

USWNT forward Megan Rapinoe won in 2019, while her teammate Alex Morgan placed third. No other USWNT players have finished in the top three since the Ballon d’Or Féminin first was awarded in 2018.

A number of prominent women’s players were unable to attend Monday’s ceremony in Paris, which was held during the FIFA women’s international window. Georgia Stanway, one of four England players nominated for the Ballon d’Or, called out the scheduling.

“It’s unfortunate that we couldn’t be there,” Stanway said. “We spoke about it as a group and said it would be nice in the future if the ceremony wasn’t on a matchday minus one day so we can all enjoy the experience. … If it was planned a little better, then it would be easier for a lot of female footballers to be there.”

Former Spanish soccer federation president Luis Rubiales has been banned from all activities related to the sport for three years, FIFA announced Monday.

The ban comes after Rubiales’ nonconsensual kiss of star midfielder Jenni Hermoso at the 2023 World Cup final. He also threw another Spanish player over his shoulder and was seen grabbing his crotch during Spain’s 1-0 win over England, and his behavior resulted in multiple investigations into his conduct.

While Rubiales initially refused calls to resign, he stepped down on Sept. 10, though he remained defiant in the face of the backlash against him. His decision to resign came after he received a provisional suspension from FIFA, the Spanish government attempted to have him removed and Hermoso filed a criminal complaint against him.

“The FIFA Disciplinary Committee has banned Luis Rubiales, the former president of the Spanish Football Association (RFEF), from all football-related activities at national and international levels for three years, having found that he acted in breach of article 13 of the FIFA Disciplinary Code,” FIFA said in a statement Monday. “This case relates to the events that occurred during the final of the FIFA Women’s World Cup on 20 August 2023, for which Mr Rubiales had been provisionally suspended for an initial period of 90 days.

“Mr Rubiales has been notified of the terms of the FIFA Disciplinary Committee’s decision today. In accordance with the relevant provisions of the FIFA Disciplinary Code, he has ten days in which to request a motivated decision, which, if requested, would subsequently be published on legal.fifa.com. The decision remains subject to a possible appeal before the FIFA Appeal Committee.

“FIFA reiterates its absolute commitment to respecting and protecting the integrity of all people and ensuring that the basic rules of decent conduct are upheld.”

While Rubiales has maintained his innocence, saying the kiss was consensual, Spanish prosecutors have charged him with sexual assault and coercion. They also say Rubiales attempted to put pressure on both Hermoso and her family to say that the kiss was consensual.

Hermoso has maintained that the kiss was not consensual, saying she felt “disrespected” and was left unprotected “as an employee of the federation.”

The 33-year-old midfielder returned to the national team last week for the first time since the World Cup final, scoring the game-winning goal in Spain’s 1-0 Nations League victory over Italy.

Jenni Hermoso, Alexia Putellas and the rest of the Spanish women’s national team will not play for their country until more changes are made within the Spanish football federation (RFEF).

Luis Rubiales resigned as RFEF president as a result of the backlash to his forced kiss of Hermoso at the 2023 World Cup final, and controversial head coach Jorge has been fired. But those changes “are not enough for the players to feel safe, where women are respected, where there is support for women’s football and where we can maximize our potential,” the players said in a statement.

The players are demanding the restructuring of the women’s football organization, the presidential cabinet and general secretary, the communications and marketing department and the ethics and integrity department.

Head coach Montse Tomé, who took over in the wake of Vilda’s firing, is set to announce her first squad Friday. The World Cup champions are set to play in Nations League games against Sweden and Switzerland on Sept. 22 and 26.

“The players of the Spanish team have, at all times, been open to dialogue, seeking to convey clear and well-argued reasons that we believe are necessary to be able to carry out our work at the highest level with the respect we deserve,” the players wrote. “The specified changes to the RFEF are based on zero tolerance for those people who, from a position within the RFEF, have had, incited, hidden or applauded attitudes that go against the dignity of women.”

Before Rubiales stepped down earlier this week, he had vowed not to resign in a meeting of the RFEF. Many in the audience at the meeting applauded Rubiales, though some have since apologized, saying that they felt pressured to do so.

At the time, players said they would not play for Spain again “if the present leadership continues.” They also asked for “real structural changes that help the national team continue to grow.” Though Vilda and Rubiales are out, the players want to see more systemic changes.

“We firmly believe that strong changes are required in leadership positions in the RFEF and specifically, in the area of women’s football,” the players wrote. “We want to end this statement by expressing that the players of the Spanish team are professionals, and what fills us most with pride is wearing the shirt of our national team and leading our country to the highest positions.

“We believe that it is time to fight to show that these situations and practices have no place in football or society, that the current structure needs changes and we do it so that the next generations can have equality in football and at the level that we all deserve.”

The England’s women’s national team will not receive World Cup bonuses from its national federation following a breakdown in negotiations.

A new FIFA pay structure will see players directly compensated for the World Cup for the first time. But England’s Football Association has said it will not give its players bonus payments, The Times reported.

Instead, each player will receive just the FIFA payment, with every group-stage competitor receiving $30,000. The payments will increase with each stage; if England wins the tournament, each player on the Lionesses would receive $270,000.

While England players receive match fees for playing in international friendlies, they don’t receive such fees for major tournaments. Some national teams, including Germany, follow the same payment structure. But other teams, including the USWNT and Australia, will be paying out bonuses on top of the FIFA money.

According to The Times, players are set to push for additional bonuses to be put in place in the future, but negotiations for the World Cup began too late.

England players also are frustrated over a media “blackout,” which began at the start of England’s camp on June 19. According to players, the inability to participate in media opportunities has caused them to miss out on deals. And what deals they were able to negotiate were crammed into one week, or even in some cases one day.

Lindsey Horan’s decision to stay with Olympique Lyonnais became official Thursday, as the Portland Thorns transferred her to the French club.

The U.S. women’s national team midfielder joined Lyon on an 18-month loan in January 2022 after six seasons with Portland in the NWSL. The loan expired this month, but the teams worked out a deal to keep her in Division 1 Féminine.

Lyon paid a transfer fee of €250,000 (approximately $274,000) to keep Horan in the fold, plus a potential €50,000 (approximately $54,750) in performance bonuses, per a news release. Her contract with the Thorns ran through the 2025 NWSL season, while her new deal with Lyon will keep her with the club through the 2025-26 European season.

In 88 regular-season appearances for the Thorns, Horan contributed 25 goals and and nine assists, and she won NWSL MVP in 2018.

“Portland holds such a special place in my heart,” Horan said in a release from the Thorns. “I made many incredible memories I will never forget. On top of that, I also had the opportunity to win multiple trophies and share that success with so many amazing people.

The transfer comes in a big week for the 29-year-old, who got engaged to her boyfriend Tyler Heaps and was named to the USWNT World Cup roster.

Women’s soccer continues its meteoric rise, with the Women’s FA Cup final at London’s Wembley Stadium selling out for the first time ever.

Manchester United and Chelsea are set to face off on May 14 for the trophy, and they will do so in front of a crowd of more than 70,000 fans. 

The sellout is just the latest in a long line of record attendances for women’s soccer this season. For their Champions League semifinal match, Arsenal sold out Emirates Stadium for the first time ever. Earlier in the season, the Gunners attracted a Women’s Super League record crowd of 47,367 for the north London derby in September when they played Tottenham Hotspur.

While last season’s Champions League quarterfinal and semifinal games in Barcelona broke records, other clubs have seen massive crowds this season as well.

Wolfsburg’s semifinal against Arsenal – the first leg – featured more than 22,000 fans, while Roma’s game against Barcelona drew just shy of 40,000 people. In total, five of the WCL’s all-time top 10 crowds have come this season. 

Attendance for 10 WCL matches surpassed 20,000 fans this season. Just 17 had reached that number prior to this season.

These trends are exciting, particularly in a summer where the Women’s World Cup is set to break attendance records of its own: More than 750,000 tickets have been sold to the tournament in Australia and New Zealand, per FIFA. The tournament could break the attendance record set at the 2019 World Cup, which reached just over 1.1 million people.