Women’s Euro: England crowned at home

English football fans have been waiting for their first title since Bobby Charlton’s gang got their hands on the 1966 World Cup. Deliverance did not come from the men’s team as they had imagined, beaten a while ago. year at home in the final of the Euro by Italy, but women’s football. Sunday July 31 in London, the “Three Lionesses” won their first European championship, which they organized, by defeating Germany in the final, at the end of the extension (victory 2-1).

The English have long been on par with a Germany already accustomed to European honors – eight times titled at the Euro – but deprived, a few minutes before kick-off, of its captain and top scorer, Alexandra Popp, executioner of the France team in the previous round and victim of “muscular problems” during warm-up. Sarina Wiegman’s players had to wait for the hour mark to find the opening thanks to Ella Toone, at the conclusion of a counter-attack with a subtle lob on the German goalkeeper (1-0, 62nd). Before falling back too much and then conceding the equalizer by Lina Magull, cutting off a low center from Tabea Wassmuth (1-1, 79th).

87,000 spectators

Extra time, and a possible penalty shootout, would decide the winner. The meeting definitely tipped over to the English side when Chloe Kelly took advantage of a mess at the reception of a corner to place a sharp close (2-1, 111th), capsizing the mythical enclosure of Wembley and its over 87,000 spectators. Either the record for a European championship match, men and women combined. “It’s the moment of my life that I’m most proud of. (…) I won’t sleep all week, confided the English captain Leah Williamson after the final, at the microphone of the BBC. What this tournament will leave is above all the change in society. That’s all we’ve done together bringing people to the games, but what this team will leave behind are winners and that’s just the beginning of the journey. »

Three years after the World Cup organized in France, which had already concretized the upward trajectory of women in football, and despite the slowdown in this progress due, since 2020, to the Covid-19 pandemic, the English Euro ends on an undeniable popular success. With nearly 575,000 cumulative supporters present in English stadiums in July, the influx of this Euro pulverizes the best mark for the women’s continental competition, which was achieved five years ago in the Netherlands with half as many spectators. . “Your success goes far beyond the trophy you so well deserved. You have all set an example that will inspire girls and women today and for generations to come,” said in a press release Queen Elizabeth II, who now only speaks on very rare occasions.

At the national level, this success also validates the choice as coach of the Dutchwoman Sarina Wiegman, undefeated since taking office in September 2021, she who had led the Netherlands to the European title in 2017 and to the final of the World Cup 2019. One year from the next World Cup and two years from the Paris Olympics, this title also crowns a country that has returned to the map of women’s football in Europe in recent years, thanks to a major reform decided in 2017 by the English Federation and aimed at professionalizing its championship.



Women’s Tour de France: with Annemiek van Vleuten, the Netherlands flew over the race

As expected, the epilogue of this Tour de France Women took place in the Vosges, during the only two mountain stages concocted by the organizers. And as expected, Annemiek van Vleuten crushed the pedals to outwit the competition. The number of the Dutchwoman was still enough to disconcert the peloton and the observers. Saturday July 30, first. Starting alone 65 kilometers from the finish, the Movistar runner had widened the gaps in the ascent of the Grand Ballon pass, relegating her compatriot Marianne Vos, yellow jersey at the start, to more than twenty minutes. More than the stage victory, the climber of almost 40 years had knocked out the general classification and had made sure, barring an accident, of winning the event.

This mattress acquired, she only had to manage her effort during the eighth and last day between Lure and the Super Planche des Belles Filles, Sunday July 31, to secure the final victory. But here again, van Vleuten went on the offensive, flying from the foot of the last ramp in front of a small group running out of solution. With this new demonstration at the top of the Super Planche des Belles Filles, the Movistar rider adds her name to the winners of the women’s Grande Boucle, back after three decades of absence. “I didn’t even believe it was possible after being so sick, she had savored on the eve of the arrival, diminished at the start of the week by a gastrointestinal virus. I came so close to quitting the race, it’s a small miracle. »

Juliette Labous fourth

Three weeks after Annemiek van Vleuten’s success in the Giro Rosa, the women’s version of the Tour of Italy, this 2022 edition of the Women’s Tour de France confirms the current domination of the Netherlands in women’s cycling: the Dutchwoman Demi Vollering, appeared as the only one able to compete, only one time, with van Vleuten, finished the race on the second step of the podium, when Marianne Vos (Jumbo-Visma) spent four days in yellow and pocketed two stages, and Lorena Wiebes ( Team DSM) dominated two sprint finishes, including the inaugural stage on the Champs-Elysées on Sunday July 24.

France will have to wait before finding an heiress in Jeannie Longo, triple winner in the last Tour de France to have been organized by Amaury Sport Organization, the historic manager of the men’s Tour, from 1984 to 1989. She has with Juliette Labous , (Team DSM), first Habs in the general classification (4th, at 7 minutes 28 s) of a serious candidate for the final victory in the years to come.

Level differences still too great

The director of the Tour and former runner Marion Rousse can be satisfied while waiting for several successes, including the audiences. The eight days of racing gathered an average of 2 million viewers on France Télévisions, the broadcaster of the event, or half of the figures collected three weeks earlier on the men’s Tour. Perhaps seduced by a few innovations, such as the possibility, in the manner of Formula 1 races, of listening live to the instructions received in their headsets by the runners, 2.7 million people followed Saturday the penultimate step in front of their post.

Certain modalities of the event, however, still need to be refined to avoid the repetition of massive falls observed this year in future editions. “Differences in level cause a lot of incidentsincluded Stephen Delcourt, the manager of the French team FDJ-Suez-Futuroscope whose co-leader Marta Cavalli had been eliminated on the second day of racing after a crash. Our sport is not mature, there are big differences in level and that’s normal. I understand that ASO wanted to support certain teams by having them take part in this great race, but there are cyclists who don’t have the experience. »

There also remains the frustration, expressed by several riders, of not having been able to run a less telegenic time trial or very high mountain stage in the Alps and the Pyrenees, i.e. the two traditional justices of the peace of the men’s race. “This year, it was very important to be attractive. But we don’t forbid ourselves to put some in the next few years, ” recalled Marion Rousse.



Women’s Euro 2022: Les Bleues fall from above against Germany

“It’s a sporting failure, we are far from our goal”. In 2019, after an elimination from the World Cup at home in the quarter-finals against the soon-to-be-champion Americans, the tricolor coach Corinne Deacon summed up the end of her players’ career in a rather lapidary way. The formula could be used again on Wednesday July 27 after the exit of the French in the semi-finals of the Euro, beaten 2-1 by the Germans.

Because they had repeated it before the meeting, the Blue ones: to be for the first time in the last four of the European championship was only a stage. “The goal is only on the trophy”, hammered captain Wendie Renard. The girls were “confident”, as if the victory in the quarter-finals against the Netherlands (1-0 after extra time), finally breaking the glass ceiling of the Bleues who have been limited for too long at this stage of the competition, was worth a passport for the future. Except that the Germans had a perfectly thought out plan against the France team.

Under German rule

The German scarecrow, however, no longer really impressed the Blues. Even if the selection from across the Rhine could claim a unique track record in European women’s football, with 8 continental titles crunched out of 12, unchallenged domination from 1995 to 2013, and no less than 99 goals scored in this event , the best of Mannschaft, it was said, was a thing of the past. Perhaps this reputation as a generation one step below has piqued the pride of German women.

Because they are the ones who entered the field with the bit between their teeth, applied to put the Blues under pressure, closing all the spaces, immediately jumping on the ball carrier. The duels? Overall to the advantage of the Germans. Possession of the ball? Same. From this grip, the Blues could not get rid of, deprived of ammunition and therefore unable to sustain their traditional breakaways on the wings. That the Germans materialize this superiority with a superb volley from their inevitable striker Alexandra Popp was anything but an injustice. That the Blues managed to equalize just before half-time on an opportunistic shot from Kadidiatou Diani proved to be rather well paid, however.

“Good for the future”

After the break, the Blues certainly existed a little more, the Germans gradually loosening their grip. It prevents. It was the Germans, and again by the inevitable Alexandra Popp, who found the net. Les Bleues have not given up, but this ” state of mind “, much praised by Corinne Deacon after the success against the Netherlands, was not enough to overthrow a Germany “powerful, athletic and efficient”, recognized the coach after the match. Nothing to say: the Mannschaft deserves its final at Wembley against the English on Sunday July 31.

For the France team, the disappointment is commensurate with the ambition. “But we built thingswanted to positive Corinne Deacon. There is a solid base, a very friendly, hard-working group that doesn’t like to lose. So it’s good for the future “. The coach can look to the future more calmly than after the failure of the World Cup which opened the door to devastating settling of accounts with some executives of the Blues. By renewing its workforce and betting on the new generation, it has partly won its bet, leading Les Bleues to the last four.

The performance is undoubtedly sufficient for the coach to be renewed at the head of the Blue until the 2023 World Cup in Australia and New Zealand. Still, the France team is still looking for its first international success, and this campaign in England has not raised considerable enthusiasm. Party postponed, no doubt, as the workforce of the Blue displays many promises. But part postponed anyway. And once again.



Euro 2022: how England became a stronghold of women’s football

Whatever the outcome of the first semi-final between England and Sweden, this Tuesday July 26 (9 p.m.) in Sheffield (United Kingdom), the Women’s Football Euro organized this year on English lawns will mark certainly a victory for the host country. From its first matches spent to crush Norway (8-0) or Northern Ireland (5-0), until a possible final in the mythical enclosure of Wembley (90,000 seats), Sunday July 31, the “Lionesses” have always sold out at this European Championship.

A sign that in the country where modern football was born, supporters only ask to live to the rhythm of the round ball, whether it is led on the field by a man or a woman. Never deprived of emotion by the first, in club as in selection, where the players had reached the final of the last men’s Euro a year ago, the fans have long been chomping at the bit when it comes to women’s football.

The fault, in part, of the Football Association (FA), the English football federation, which prohibited women from practicing this sport considered dangerous for their health, from the 1920s until the 1970s. And despite a first Women’s Euro at low resonance organized on English soil in the summer of 2005, the discipline is left in the lurch by the institutions, which regard it above all as an adjustment variable when concluding budgets. Already alerted by the good results of its selection at the 2015 World Cup, finished in third place, the federation changes foot when the award of Euro 2021 looms (finally postponed to 2022 due to the Covid-19 pandemic) , which she will pocket.

Major reform of the national championship

A major reform was launched five years ago, “which mainly concerns the development of Women’s Super League (WSL), the English national championship, notes sports economist Luc Arrondel, a specialist in women’s football. A championship had been present since the 1990s and had become a little more structured in a semi-professional way from 2011, but it was disputed in the summer period, therefore with very little visibility. » The 2017 growth plan begins the process of professionalisation: independent governance of women’s football is established at the FA and the twelve clubs which are granted a professional license must pay their players at least sixteen hours a week and acquire of a women’s section for their training centre.

The vast majority of clubs rely on the facilities of their men’s section, which most often play in the Premier League, the English first division, although the women have their own stadium. “We have two assistants, a mental coach (…), two physiotherapists, a masseur, a doctor. The staffs are a little wider (just in France) and then, in terms of infrastructure, we are in a huge center. We have three gyms, an indoor synthetic pitch. It’s England, what! », recently enthused French international Kenza Dali, today at Everton after moving to Londoners West Ham, quoted by Agence France-Presse.

The reform also concerned the very form of the championship, where the number of clubs relegated to the lower level at the end of the season was reduced. “The WSL is more closed, which has brought more stability for the clubs and strengthened their competitiveness”, notes Luc Arrondel, especially, he specifies, that “The players of the English national team receive a significant income to remain playing in the English championship” and that foreign players have had more difficulty settling in the United Kingdom since Brexit, thus favoring the emergence of young English talent.

Growing attendance, flooding sponsors

While the level of play has logically progressed, crowds have followed in the stadiums, filled on average with a few thousand supporters before the start of the health crisis. A push that prompted the influx of sponsors and the arrival for three years of broadcasters such as the Sky Sports channel and the BBC, for the record sum of 8.1 million euros since the start of the 2021 school year, three times higher than the rights television stations of the French first division. “Contrary to what is usually practiced, this media coverage and these cash inflows are the consequence of an almost political reform of English football”, emphasizes Luc Arrondel.

With the European Championship, English football intends to strengthen its self-sufficiency for the coming seasons. Our objective is twofold: to organize a record tournament and leave a tangible legacy to develop women’s football.”advanced ahead of the event Sue Campbell, director of women’s football at the English federation, in remarks taken up by the British daily The Guardian. The Euro, like every major competition, could in particular promote an additional jump in vocations, and would make it possible to retain the public across the Channel for good. The condition for the progress of English women’s football to be reflected next season at club level on the European scene, still in difficulty on their side against their French, Spanish or German neighbors.



With the Tour de France, women’s cycling on the right trajectory

Fans of the little queen plagued by post-Tour blues can cheer up. The Tour de France 2022 ended well on Sunday July 24 with the parade in yellow by Dane Jonas Vingegaard, but another Grande Boucle took over the same day on the Champs-Élysées. After three decades of absence, the women’s Tour de France returns this week to follow the opposite route to the men’s and finish its race in the Vosges, at the top of the Planche des Belles Filles (read the marks)Sunday, July 31.

If the event is deprived of the Alpine and Pyrenean reliefs, i.e. the traditional justices of the peace for the men’s event, it is because the 2022 edition represents the first draft of what the female counterpart of the Tour sees itself becoming in the next seasons. “One day we will go to very high mountains”, promised race director and retired peloton Marion Rousse.

For this trial run, Amaury Sport Organization (ASO) is using a recipe born in 1955 and tested a little longer from 1984 to 1989 by the Société du Tour de France, the historic organizer of the race. Dropped by ASO from the 1990s until 2009, the competition remained against the tide before seeing its format reduced to a single stage, contested as a curtain raiser to the men’s race for seven years.

Minimum wage and maternity leave

But the Tour captures this year women’s cycling in a state of professionalization never seen before. “At the time, we didn’t even have the status of professional riders”, retains Marie-Françoise Potereau, who took the start of the six women’s Tour de France in the 1980s alongside Jeannie Longo (triple winner in the jersey of the French team) “while having to work on the side as a ski instructor or sports instructor”. The current vice-president of the French Cycling Federation (FFC), in charge of the plan to feminize the discipline, dates back to a handful of years the structuring of cycling for women, and in particular to 2016.

This is the season in which the International Cycling Union (UCI) launched the World Tour, the equivalent of a world first division. The number of teams will increase to the 14 recognized this year, in particular thanks to the support of nine of the sponsors attached to the men’s elite teams. As in France with the FDJ-Nouvelle Aquitaine-Futuroscope, the only one present in the World Tour, and the female version of the most successful tricolor team among men, or Cofidis, set up this season at the lower level.

Supplemented by an extended calendar for the main one-day races, like the first women’s Paris-Roubaix, these cash inflows have sufficiently inflated the ecosystem for a minimum wage to be introduced in 2020. And this one should be increased to €32,000 next season, the equivalent of what the rider of a second division men’s team receives. Added to this is the possibility of benefiting from maternity leave and access, since 2021 for French women, to health insurance and social security.

11,624 licensed in France

But beyond the World Tour, such progress is still pending. Without going so far as to speak of women’s cycling at two speeds, Jean-Christophe Barbotin acknowledges that “the UCI is not going fast enough to professionalize second division teams”, like that of the Stade Rochelais which he founded eight years ago. In the only French team not dependent on a male formation – “which explains why she was only recognized as a professional in 2019” –, the manager is also suffering the consequences of the still timid interest of French women in cycling, while the FFC only counted 11,624 licensees last year. “To build the team, I have no choice but to include foreign riders. »

Invited to the Tour, the fifth French team “economically had to be present there”, breathes Jean-Christophe Barbotin, who intends to reap the benefits of the world exhibition offered this week. For the first time, each stage of the race will be broadcast unencrypted on France Télévisions and broadcast in 190 countries. Enough to aim for three objectives, by allowing the event to become profitable in the short term, which had been lacking in its previous versions, but also to “to make young girls want to cycle and clubs to invest, considers Marie-Françoise Potereau. The performance of the new French generation, the first to have known only professional structures, could help them. »



Women’s Tour de France: Dutchwoman Lorena Wiebes, first yellow jersey

Dutch sprinter Lorena Wiebes won the first stage of the women’s Tour de France on Sunday July 24 in Paris and is wearing the first yellow jersey of this women’s Grande Boucle. Wiebes was more powerful than her compatriot Marianne Vos to win on the Champs-Élysées where Belgian Lotte Kopecky took third place in the final sprint.

The legend Oranje Marianne Vos, triple world champion (2006, 2012 and 2013), launched the sprint from afar to try to win on the Parisian avenue, as in 2014 when she won the first edition of La Course by The Tour on these same cobblestones.

But Wiebes, well placed in the final bend, was not surprised in this twelfth lap of the circuit around the Tuileries gardens and on the Champs-Élysées that the men will take at the start of the evening. “The girls did an amazing job”praised Wiebes at the end of the 82 km. “I was able to accelerate again to pass Marianne on the line. »

52nd success of his career

At 23, the DSM rocket already signs the 52nd success of her career, the 16th this season. Only Italian world champion Elisa Balsamo was able to deprive her of success in a sprint this year, and only twice. But the wearer of the rainbow jersey, less well positioned, could not defend her chances on Sunday (7th).

Thanks to the game of bonuses, Wiebes has a four-second lead in the general classification over Vos before the 2nd stage between Meaux and Provins on Monday (136.4 km) where they will only be 143 at the start. The Belgian Alana Castrique (Cofidis) was forced to retire after a fall about ten kilometers from the finish.

Like a handover, Jeannie Longo, winner of three editions, the last of which with the Tour de France appellation in 1989, accompanied the race director Marion Rousse at the time of the real start on Sunday.



Women’s Euro: Delphine Cascarino, the speed asset of the Blue

On the English lawn of Rotherham, in the quarter-finals of the Women’s Football Euro, the Dutch could think on Saturday July 23 that Delphine Cascarino occupied several positions under the blue jersey of the France team. The ponytailed winger was everywhere. In attack, in defense, in front, behind, on the right, on the left. Her speed, her activity and her fighting spirit made her opponents dizzy, defending champions and beaten by the smallest of margins (1-0).

Tireless, the attacker multiplied the overflows, dribbles and accelerations, but also the defensive withdrawals, on the two wings of the field, including during the extension which saw the Blue finally score, on penalty. During a match where the French shot on goal 33 times, she could have opened the scoring from the 27th.e minute of the game. But his shot hit the post defended by Daphne Van Domselaar, the Netherlands goalkeeper.

A player trained at Olympique Lyonnais

The 25-year-old player was trained at Olympique Lyonnais, like her twin sister Estelle, also international, but who was not selected for this competition. Daughter of a father of Italian origin and a mother from Guadeloupe, she still defends the colors of OL after taking her first steps as a footballer in Saint-Priest (Rhône), her hometown in the suburbs of Lyon. With this club, she won everything: six titles in the Champions League, seven in the French championship and four in the Coupe de France.

Delphine Cascarino has also stacked up successes with the French youth teams: victories at the Under-17 World Cup in 2012 and at the 2016 Under-19 Euro, final of the Under-20 World Cup years in 2016. She joined the “A” the same year, showing off the starting stripes in 2018 under the orders of Corinne Deacon, the current coach. She then landed in a group that remained on a series of four successive eliminations in the quarter-finals in major tournaments, in 2013, 2015, 2016 and 2017.

In 2019, the attacker experienced the same disappointment during the World Cup organized in France. After five failures, the curse was lifted against the Dutch. Wednesday, July 27, in the semi-final of this Women’s Euro, this time it is the Germans who will see Delphine Cascarino split on the lawn of Milton Keynes.



Women’s Euro: the Blues outclass the Italians 5-1 for their entry into the competition

The France team delivered a message of power for its entry into the women’s Euro, Sunday July 10 in Rotherham, rolling before half-time on an Italy team (5-1) burned by offensive sparks tricolors and the amazing Grace Geyoro, credited with a surprising hat-trick.

Les Bleues, expected at the turn, inflicted on the Italians the biggest card of the first day, even larger than the river scores achieved by the Germans (4-0), the Norwegians and the Spaniards (4-1) before them in start of the tournament.

The label of favorites did not seem too heavy to bear for the French, with their feet on the floor against the Italians overwhelmed by waves of attacks from the right, left and center.

big thrill

Barbara Bonansea’s team missed their chance when the Juve star winger missed their face-to-face with Pauline Peyraud-Magnin, guardian of the Imperial Blue Temple in front of her club teammate (4th).

Because after this big thrill, the Blues warmed the hearts of their supporters scattered around the small New York stadium, where some 8,500 fans had taken place, launching a fiery American quarter of an hour with goals signed Geyoro (9th) and Marie-Antoinette Katoto (12th).

The start could have hurt even more if the post had not repelled the attempt by “MAK” (15th) after a throw-in from Delphine Cascarino preceded by a roulette, small bridge and cross combo from Kadidiatou Diani, untenable on her right wing. “At one point, we didn’t believe it ourselves on the bench”smiled coach Corinne Deacon at half-time, surprised by the insolent success of her players.

The dream of a first title

Les Bleues had indeed secured the victory even before the second period, which started at 5-0. On the other hand, they eased off and conceded an avoidable goal from the incoming Martina Piemonte (76th), then were relieved by a save from Selma Bacha and a parade from Peyraud-Magnin in added time.

With this thunderous start, France sweeps away the skepticism born of two preparation matches without great adversity, against Cameroon (4-0) and Vietnam (7-0), and strengthens the position of its coach. “Not always judged at its fair value”Corinne Deacon “deserves the trust of the federation”supported the boss of the FFF, Noël Le Graët, in an interview with The Team and AFP before kick-off.

If the momentum generated on Sunday were to be confirmed, the future of Deacon would become even clearer. In the meantime, France fly over their group ahead of Iceland and Belgium (who drew 1-1 earlier on Sunday), with Italy bringing up the rear. And the dream of a first title, July 31 at Wembley, remains intact.



Roland-Garros: Victory for Iga Swiatek, undisputed patron of women’s tennis

After falling in love with the Japanese Naomi Osaka, with a raw personality but too inconsistent results for two seasons, then with the Australian Ashley Barty, world No. 1 before the surprise announcement of her retirement, at 25, in last March, women’s tennis finally had a lasting headliner with Iga Swiatek. Saturday June 4, the 21-year-old Polish logically lifted the Cup at Roland-Garros after showing the court to the promise of American tennis player Coco Gauff (18) in the final of the Parisian Grand Slam (6-1, 6-3 ).

The signs of a boss are less to be found in her press conferences, which are always very conventional, than in reading her match sheets: to pocket her second Roland-Garros, after an unexpected success two years ago for that which was then only the 53e world player, the Pole only needed 1h15 on average over her seven matches, giving up only one set out of the 15 played in Paris. The only player to steal a set from her, the Chinese Zheng in the round of 16, then suffered a surge in the next two, for a 6-7, 6-0, 6-2 victory at the finish.

With this new success – her sixth title already this season after those clinched in Doha, Indian Wells, Miami, Stuttgart and Rome – Swiatek extends her unbeaten streak to 35 games, equaling the American Venus Williams, so far the sole holder of the record for a player in the 21st century, after coming back up to the height of the other Williams sister, Serena, in the previous round (34 wins in a row). The Pole, however, remains far from the bar set very high by the Czech Martina Navratilova and her 74 rank victories in the 1980s. “These statistics are not useful, they do not help me”, confided the interested party during her fortnight at Porte d’Auteuil, aware that her series of victories could increase the weight of her next defeat.

If she prefers to detach herself from the media buzz that now surrounds each of her outings, it is because the player has made resistance to pressure the first of her struggles off the field. At the end of meetings spent suffocating her competitors from the back of the court, the Pole then most often sends her one-on-one meetings to the press, following one of the recommendations of her mental trainer, Daria Abramowicz.

A collaboration that began at the age of 17 when the Pole was not yet among the top hundred players in the WTA rankings. “From the start, she was very open (…) She felt that she needed a psychological approach different from what is usually done. It’s pretty rare at that age.” was she slipping this week at Release. “If you have a high level of expectation like Iga, it’s completely normal for there to be pressure, and it’s impossible to make it go away. If you try, you will waste energy unnecessarily. We therefore work in full consciousness: if you accept what you are going through, there is a greater chance that you will be able to shift your attention to something else, such as performance or recovery work. »

In the final of the Champions League, disputed in Saint-Denis during the fortnight and which it ” would have liked “ see, she confessed, or in the spirit of the times fueled by social networks, Swiatek still resists, preferring the wiser reading of the latest Yuval Noah Harari, or an Agatha Christie classic: “Maybe in two or three years, I will be able to do it but, for the moment, it is too difficult. I may not be able to focus enough on tennis. I have to stick to my routine. » The bubble seems necessary in women’s tennis that has lacked stability for several seasons – the ladies’ table winners remained on eight different winners – which has probably predicted peaks too quickly for its young nuggets for several seasons.

Roland-Garros: Nadal bends Djokovic and qualifies for the semi-finals

On the war in Ukraine, the champion does not seem, again, ready to put on the costume of the most recognized sportswoman in Poland behind the footballer Robert Lewandowski, who came to encourage her in the stands on Saturday. She just remembers that “sport is often exploited by politicians”. More at ease when it comes to talking about his passion for Rafael Nadal’s tennis, “I wrote in a small notebook, everything he did until the age of 15”she will support the Spaniard in the final of the men’s draw on Sunday 5 June.



Football: OL women, the pioneers at the time of reconquest

A reconquest or a transfer of power? This is one of the challenges of the final of the Women’s Champions League, this Saturday 21 in Turin, between Olympique Lyonnais and Barcelona. The Fenottes (the nickname of the Lyonnaises), weaned from titles last season, find the ultimate continental duel for the tenth time, and are aiming for an eighth coronation record. The Catalans, rewarded for the first time in 2021 (4-0 against Chelsea), hope to confirm their status as the new queens of Europe.

→ THE FACTS. Women’s football: France formalizes its candidacy for the organization of Euro 2025

A success would in any case be a breath of fresh air for Jean-Michel Aulas, CEO of the OL Group and tireless promoter of women’s football. The girls at the top is the saving foam of a season in the hollow of the wave for the men’s Olympique Lyonnais, deprived of the European Cup for the first time in twenty-five years at the end of a full season. What amply justify the efforts made on a women’s section which occupies a place in its own right in the OL house.

Move walls

“It was not easyremembers Isabelle Bernard, who very quickly piloted as leader the emergence of the women’s section at the end of the 2000s, and later its structuring, advising Jean-Michel Aulas. These are not lines that had to be moved, but walls to force the men to become less macho and not to see the women’s team as an embarrassing outgrowth. Thanks to the unfailing will of Jean-Michel Aulas, the integration was gradually achieved, confirmed first by the European titles of 2011 and 2012, then definitively acquired when the club moved to Décines in 2016.

→ INVESTIGATION. The immense physical challenge of female footballers

OL left their historic Gerland and moved to their new big stadium, with their training camp and academy to train their youngsters. “The idea of ​​giving the women’s team the same training conditions as the boys has materialized, in terms of infrastructure, but also technical and medical supervision.explains Olivier Blanc, the current director of OL Women. The means are there, it is far from being the case everywhere. »

The women’s OL evokes a budget today comprised between “8 and 10 million euros”. Enough to ensure significant salaries, exceeding €30,000 monthly for a few players (captain Wendie Renard, Norwegian striker Ada Hegerberg, playmaker Amel Majri), well beyond the average for clubs like Guingamp or Soyaux. , which does not reach €2,000. Nothing to do, of course, with the stratospheric remuneration of men’s football.

“But the ecosystem of women’s football is obviously not comparable, and OL women still have a deficit of a few million euros which the men’s club finances, as with women’s PSG moreover.observes Luc Arrondel, associate professor at the Paris School of Economics. For OL, the essential interest is in terms of image, which is very positive. Except that, be careful, after being a pioneer and ahead, OL women are caught up by other European clubs. »

Fill stadiums and push formation

Barcelona is pulling its claws, other Spanish, Italian and German clubs are gaining momentum, and England is showing its ambitions by creating an independent professional league. The French Football Federation recently initiated a similar reflection within a high-level Women’s Football Commission, led precisely by Jean-François Aulas.

“The biggest job is to bring more people to our stadiums, and therefore to improve the attractiveness of our championship.comments Olivier Blanc. It is then necessary to accelerate the effort on training by pushing the recognition of women’s training centers by the ministry. This is not yet the case, and this limits us. »

→ REREAD. How Olympique Lyonnais became the best women’s football team in Europe

While waiting for recognition allowing it to recruit more widely, OL encourages its partner clubs to bet on women’s football, everywhere in France but also internationally. Typical example, AS Dakar Sacré-Coeur, linked to OL since 2015, which founded its women’s team in 2017 and became champion of Senegal in 2021.

Men’s OL already relies on a network of associated clubs in Vietnam, Morocco, Portugal and Brazil. “Our challenge for tomorrow is to develop this model at the level of women’s football”underlined last year Vincent Ponsot, the director of football at OL.

Conclusion of Olivier Blanc: “OL were the first to understand the need to think about their strategy for women as well. Faced with competition, we must now stay the course. »


Sonia Bompastor for a first

She has been in charge for just over a year, and here she is on her way to making history in her sport. Sonia Bompastor was already the first woman to lead OL Women. The former international, who has already won the Champions League as captain of Lyonnaises in 2011 and 2012, can become the first to double the lead as a coach if OL win their final this Saturday, May 21 against Barcelona. In the meantime, at the beginning of the week, she made herself the advocate of women’s football at the microphone of RMC Sport, asking the French Federation to invest much more in women’s football, at the risk “to be quickly overwhelmed”. “There is an emergency, I am ringing the alarm bell”insisted the ex-Blue.