U.S. women’s national team star and captain Lindsey Horan was sent off on Thursday in Lyon’s Champions League matchup against Brann, which ended in a 2-2 draw.

After colliding with Brann’s Karoline Haugland, Horan got into it with Haugland and the referee. Initially, the referee had shown a yellow card to Horan, but it was subsequently upgraded to a red card. The removal of Horan forced Lyon down to 10 players and Brann equalized in stoppage time to secure a point.

Lyon held a 2-0 lead at one point in the match and were up 2-1 at the time of Horan’s red card. The draw ended Lyon’s stellar start to the season, in which they won 15 consecutive games.

Following the match, Lyon manager Sonia Bompastor said the referee had misunderstood the situation, and who Horan was yelling at.

“[Horan] is fouled from behind, she is a player who suffers a lot of fouls, she has already had injuries due to these tackles from behind, she was scared,” Bompastor told reporters. “She said ‘my f—ing knee’ in English. The referee understood that she was talking to her, she thought Lindsay had insulted her.”

The game marked Horan’s first start for Lyon in just over three weeks. She had missed some time due to an ankle sprain, according to the club.

Barcelona coach Jonatan Giráldez has confirmed his departure from the club amid reports that he will be making a move to the NWSL in 2024.

In announcing his departure, Giráldez said that he had received an offer from “outside of Europe.” The 32-year-old will remain in charge of reigning Champions League titleholder Barcelona until the end of the team’s current campaign, which is when his contract is set to expire.

“I communicated to the club a few days ago my intention to not renew my contract,” Giráldez said in a news conference. “I wanted the timing of the decision to allow the club the most time possible to plan for the good of the team. Also, on a personal level, I wanted to avoid the focus being on [my future] when we get to March, April-time when we are usually competing for titles.

“Since [sporting director] Marc Vivés came in, we had been negotiating [a renewal]. There were things left to negotiate, relating to my staff, and during that impasse I received another offer which I decided to accept.”

Giráldez would not confirm his next move, although reports pointed to an offer from an NWSL club. Relevo reported Monday that the offer came from the Washington Spirit, who parted ways with Mark Parsons in October after missing the playoffs this season.

Giráldez would not confirm the reports but said it was a “difficult” decision to make.

“I can only say it’s outside of Europe,” he said. “I would not want to compete against Barça.”

Giráldez denied the pressure of the Barcelona role taking a toll, and noted that he would have continued if not for the alternate offer that made him reconsider. He also denied making the move solely based on money.

“If I was only deciding based on that, I would have left before,” he said. “When I make a decision, I look at many aspects. I have received much bigger offers than the one I have now.

“I assess many different things, not just money: the challenge, the sporting project and my family. It’s a professional and a family decision. It is to do with the objective of developing personally.”

Giráldez has led Barcelona since 2021, when he took over for Lluís Cortés. He had been an assistant under Cortés for the previous two seasons. In his time as head coach, Barcelona has won Liga F in each of the last two seasons, including winning all 30 league games in the 2021-22 season. They also reached the Champions League finals in both seasons, and they won the 2023 title.

He was named to the shortlist for the Best FIFA Women’s Coach award last week, alongside Chelsea’s Emma Hayes and England’s Sarina Wiegman.

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.

Esther González always dreamt of playing in the United States. Now, she’s not only made that dream come true, but she’s also a NWSL champion.

González signed with Gotham FC after winning the 2023 World Cup with Spain. And since then, the 30-year-old forward has helped the team to its first NWSL championship, scoring the title-winning goal on a header in Saturday’s final.

She predicted the goal to Spanish outlet AS ahead of the championship game.

“Yes always,” she said in Spanish when asked if she saw herself scoring in the final. “In my head, I only want to score goals, whatever the match, in training. Of course I see myself scoring in the final. I know I’m going to have a chance, I just have to make it.”

González has settled in well to the NWSL, becoming just the second player since 2015 to score a brace in one of her first two league appearances.

She also knows that she is in a league “where I can bring out my maximum potential,” and following the game she told Marta Griñan of AS that the level of competition in the NWSL is much higher than in La Liga.

“One of the biggest differences with the Spanish league, which is a great league, is that here (in the NWSL) all the games, absolutely all of them, are like a Champions League game at the highest level,” she said. “In Spain, there are some games that you can win four or five to zero, that your physical wear and tear is normal, that you have everything under control.

“Here every game is like playing against Barça, which is the best team in the Spanish League: Your level has to be the maximum, your physical demand is the maximum, and that happens weekend after weekend.”

Players of the Solvenian women’s national team are calling for their head coach to be fired for perpetuating a culture of harassment.

In an open letter addressed to the president of the Football Association of Slovenia (NZS) in July, signed by 31 players, they detail a toxic culture in which the coaching staff interferes in their personal lives, makes “inappropriate, homophobic, and even racist comments” in regard to their choice of partners, body and weight shames players, and more.

Some players said they had even sought professional psychological help to deal with the intimidation and bullying they have experienced from the coaching staff, headed by manager Borut Jarc.

Other allegations, per the letter, include coaches smuggling alcohol into camp, goalkeeping coach Danilo Sergaš sending inappropriate messages to players, and assistant coach Milomir Kondić making derogatory comments about women’s soccer in Slovenia on social media.

“You’re just taking it because you want to be part of the national team because you want to play and represent your country,” midfielder Dominika Čonč told Josimar Football. “It’s disrespectful, but you’re just taking those things because, obviously in this case, a man’s power over you as a woman is just, you know, it’s big.”

In response to the letter, NZS backed the coaching staff in a statement of its own.

NZS president Radenko Mijatović told Josimar that the federation has set up a committee to investigate the allegations.

“The players are protesting,” Mijatović said. “We are trying to find facts and then we will discuss it with them and hopefully we will find a solution.”

FIFPRO, the world soccer players’ union, declared its support for the players in a statement and urged NZS to take their concerns and requests seriously.

Slovenia is set to play in the UEFA Women’s Nations League tournament later this month, in hopes of qualifying for the 2025 European Championships. The team missed out on a spot in the 2023 Women’s World Cup after drawing Wales last September.

Slovenia’s calls for reform come amid multiple international conflicts between players and their national federations over compensation and treatment, including World Cup champions Spain.

Arsenal have made history once again, selling out Emirates Stadium for the first time in their history.

Monday’s Champions League semifinal will not be the first time the women’s team has played at Emirates this season, with the club having made a vow to play at least six matches at the venue this season. But it is the first time Arsenal have sold all of the 60,704 available tickets.

And fans are in for an exciting match, with the club playing the second leg of its Champions League semifinal against VfL Wolfsburg. The two teams are tied 2-2 after the first leg.

“‘Exciting’ doesn’t do it justice,” Arsenal and England defender Lotte Wubben-Moy said when asked about the sellout. “A lot of hard work has gone into this. When you look at the future sustainability in the game for Arsenal Women as a club that’s what’s most exciting for me. I hope every Gooner there will be screaming their hearts out.”

Of course, they’ve sold many seats in the stadium before, having attracted a Women’s Super League record crowd of 47,367 for the north London derby in September when they played Tottenham Hotspur.

Arsenal have bought into marketing the women’s games, with the marketing team remaining as one rather than having a separate team for the women’s side. That has helped bolster a trend of increasing attendance in the WSL in the wake of England’s Euros win.

It’s a step in the right direction for the club. Chief executive Vinai Venkatesham has said that he hopes to see the women’s team play all their matches at Emirates down the road. And with the club now selling out the stadium, that seems more and more likely.

“I don’t see this as an end-point for it. For me this has always been the natural progression that we were going to get here [selling out], whether it was this game or not,” manager Jonas Eidevall said. “I hope when we look back on the day tomorrow, in history, that we can see that was a starting point — to make this a regular occurrence.”

The UEFA Women’s Champions League has a new broadcasting home. 

DAZN announced Wednesday morning that it has acquired the broadcasting rights to the UEFA Women’s Champions League from 2021-25. In turn, DAZN has partnered with YouTube to broadcast the games live and for free for fans around the world for the first time.

It will be the first time UEFA has centralized all Women’s Champions League matches globally.

For the first two seasons, all 61 matches from the group stage and on will air live and on demand on DAZN and its YouTube channel. For the last two seasons, all 61 matches will be live on DAZN while 19 of the matches will be free to watch on YouTube.

“Overnight, this will make the best women’s football easier to watch around the world than ever before,” said James Rushton, co-CEO of DAZN. “Along the way, we look forward to elevating live broadcast production, extending existing DAZN content franchises, and unveiling new shows that showcase the breadth and brilliance of women’s football.”

DAZN has also released a new film campaign called “We ALL Rise With More Eyes” directed by Alyssa Boni and conveying DAZN’s long-term vision for bringing more eyes to the UEFA.

“I am beyond excited for this partnership,” said Ada Hegerberg, Olympique Lyonnais star and the all-time leading scorer in the UEFA Women’s Champions League. “For years, people have struggled to have access to our games, wherever they were living. Now, they have the unique opportunity to watch all over the world if they’d like to.

“This is a game-changing partnership that is only right for the biggest club competition in women’s football.”

Jill Roord has signed on with Frauen Bundesliga powerhouse Wolfsburg after two seasons with Arsenal.

The Dutch midfielder signed a three-year contract that runs through 2024.

Roord joined Arsenal in 2019 following two seasons with Bayern Munich. The Dutch midfielder had seven goals in 19 matches for the Gunners in the 2020-21 campaign. She also had back-to-back hat tricks against Reading and West Ham in the first two WSL games of the season. 

Currently playing in the top division of German soccer, the Bundesliga, Wolfsburg won back-to-back UEFA Women’s Champions League titles in 2013 and 2014. This year, they lost in the quarterfinal to Chelsea, who have since advanced to the final.

Notably, Wolfsburg’s new head coach Tommy Stroot was Roord’s coach at FC Twente back in her native Netherlands.

Valiant efforts by Pernille Harder and Fran Kirby helped Chelsea overcome a 2-1 first-leg deficit with a 4-1 victory over Bayern Munich on Sunday, sending them to the Women’s Champions League final, where they will meet FC Barcelona.

Previously, the club had made the semi-finals in 2017-18 and 2018-19 but did not advance to the final. The Blues become just the second English club to reach the final after Arsenal, who won it all in 2007. 

Barcelona enters the match having beaten Paris Saint-Germain in the semi-final. Previous runs include having been runners up in 2018-19 and making the semi-finals in 2019-20. They hope to become the fifth champion from a different nation after Germany, Sweden, England and France. 

Currently, Barcelona leads the Spanish Women’s Primera División while Chelsea sits one point back from Manchester City having played one less game. 

Five-time defending champion Lyon is notably absent after being knocked out by PSG in the quarter-finals.

The final will be played Sunday, May 16 in Gothenburg, Sweden. 

The UEFA has announced it will be joining a social media boycott this weekend alongside the Women’s Super League, the Premier League and a host of other English soccer stakeholders.

The groups will go silent on social media in a show of solidarity in the fight against online abuse.

The boycott will last from Friday until Monday.

“There have been abuses both on the pitch and on social media,” UEFA president Aleksander Ceferin said in a statement on Thursday. “Allowing a culture of hatred to grow with impunity is dangerous, very dangerous, not only for football, but for society as a whole.

“I urge everyone – players, clubs and national associations – to lodge formal complaints whenever players, coaches, referees or officials are victims of unacceptable tweets or messages. We’ve had enough of these cowards who hide behind their anonymity to spew out their noxious ideologies.”

Chelsea F.C. forward Sam Kerr tweeted her support for the boycott on Friday, calling on others to join the effort.

There are two Women’s Champions League semifinal games happening this weekend:

  • Barcelona vs. PSG, Sunday, 6 am ET (tied 1-1 on aggregate)
  • Chelsea vs. Bayern, Sunday, 7:30 am ET (Bayern up 2-1 on aggregate)