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Jill Ellis: USWNT must choose best coach regardless of gender

(Erin Chang/ISI Photos/Getty Images)

As the sports world waits for U.S. women’s national team coach Vlatko Andonovksi’s resignation to be made official, his predecessor Jill Ellis is looking ahead.

From Ellis’ perspective, the gender of possible hires should not be a deciding factor in the search for the next USWNT coach. Ellis led the USWNT to World Cup titles in 2015 and 2019, and then Andonovski took the reins when she stepped down at the end of 2019.

While there are a number of high-quality women candidates, the most important thing for the USWNT is to wind up with the right person to succeed Andonovski following a disappointing run at the 2021 Olympics and the 2023 World Cup, Ellis said.

“There’s certainly good female coaches out there,” she told reporters at a FIFA technical briefing Thursday in Sydney. “So what I would hope in this process is it’s robust, it’s diverse, but at the end of the day, this is a critical hire … and I think it has to be the right person.”

Women coaches have found success in the women’s game. Since 2000, all but one of the major women’s soccer titles (World Cup, Euros, Olympics) have been won by teams coached by women.

This year, Sarina Wiegman has the opportunity to add to that streak, having led England to the final against Jorge Vilda and Spain. It’s her second consecutive World Cup final after reaching the championship match in 2019 with the Netherlands.

“We need to make sure we’re creating and providing opportunities for women,” Ellis added. “But not just giving them the opportunities, making sure they’re supported and they’re educated and they’re ready to take those responsibilities and those opportunities.

“So I think it’s a critical hire, it’s got to be the right coach for this position. But in terms of gender, what we know is that in the last however many major tournaments, I think women have done all right.”