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7 women’s football moments that rocked the world in 2022

Women’s football saw some incredible moments in 2022. From tournament wins to large transfer fees paid for female players, the sport experienced growth like never before.

Unfortunately, 2022 wasn’t all sunshine and roses for women’s football around the globe. Here is a look at seven women’s football moments that rocked the world in 2022.

  1. Keira Walsh becomes the world’s most expensive women’s football player

One of the ways to gauge the growth of women’s football is in the transfer market. While fans have seen women’s football’s profile increase over the years thanks to more people watching various tournaments and competitions, transfers have remained relatively low.

In September 2022, Keira Walsh became women’s football’s most expensive player of all time. Walsh, who joined Manchester City in 2017, signed for Barcelona for a world-record fee of £400,000. The figure may seem like peanuts compared to fans of men’s football. Yet, her transfer to the Spanish giants sent shockwaves through the women’s game.

Walsh’s transfer to Barcelona was significant on multiple levels. Most female footballers do not change teams due to paid transfers. Rather, players most often move from team to team as free agents. In addition, aspiring women’s footballers now know their skills and abilities may be highly sought after in the future and teams may pay large amounts to acquire them.

The previous highest-paid transfer for a female footballer was £250,000, which Chelsea paid Germany’s Wolfsburg for Pernille Harder in 2020.

  1. England Lionesses win the 2022 European Championship

The England Lionesses had been knocking on the door of major women’s football tournaments for around a decade. Finally, in the summer of 2022, manager Sarina Wiegman led the Lionesses to glory, as the team won the European Championship on home soil.

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England topped Group A with nine points from three games, outscoring Austria, Norway, and Northern Ireland 14-0 in the group stage. The Lionesses showed their resilience in the quarterfinals against Spain. Trailing 1-0 after 84 minutes, Ella Toone scored in the closing minutes of regulation forcing extra time. There, Georgia Stanway scored in the extra period to send England into the final four.

Wiegman’s team smashed Sweden in the semifinals 4-0 to set up the final against Germany. Once again, England’s resilience came to the fore. Ella Toone’s 62nd-minute goal was cancelled out by Lina Magull with 11 minutes left on the clock to send the game to extra time. England didn’t give in, as Chloe Kelly made history, scoring in the 110th minute to win the match.

  1. England Women’s Super League sees a 200% attendance increase

The England Lionesses’ 2022 European Championship success improved the profile of women’s football in the United Kingdom. Fans clamoured for more women’s football following the team’s success, leading the Women’s Super League to see an incredible increase in ticket sales for 2022-23.

The average attendance for games in the WSL in 2022-23 is up 200%. Games in the WSL averaged around 6,000 fans per game in the opening months of the competition. The Women’s Championship has also seen an attendance increase with an 85% improvement in attendance across the second division.

  1. Biggest women’s football attendance of all time

On March 30, 2022, Barcelona and Real Madrid met in El Clasico at Camp Nou. The women’s El Clasico set the all-time women’s football attendance record, as 91,553 fans were on hand to watch the match.

Before Barcelona and Real Madrid set the attendance record for women’s football, the largest crowd to watch a women’s match took place in July 1999. The United States and China played at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, California in the 1999 FIFA Women’s World Cup Final. The match is often remembered for Brandi Chastain’s post-match celebration in which she removed her shirt, sparking huge sales of Nike sports bras.

Over 20 years later, when Barcelona and Real Madrid set a new all-time attendance record for women’s football, the teams met in the Women’s Champions League quarterfinal second leg. Barcelona claimed a win on the night by a score of 5-2, enabling them to progress to the tournament’s semifinals.

  1. NWSL misconduct scandals

Not all of the top women’s football moments in 2022 were positive. Across the pond in the United States, women’s professional football was (and still is) caught in the crosshairs of scandal. In December 2022, ESPN claimed over half the National Women’s Soccer League’s teams continued to report misconduct amongst non-playing personnel.

Sexual coercion and harassment by the league’s coaches first began to be reported in 2021, and the fallout from the events continued throughout 2022. Former Portland Thorns manager Paul Riley was alleged to have sexually coerced and harassed players as far back as 2015.  However, it wasn’t reported in the news until 2021.

Over the last 24 months, at least five male coaches in the NWSL were sacked or forced to resign due to “non-soccer reasons”. The NWSL has been blamed for a lack of responsibility when it comes to players alleging coercion and harassment.

According to a report released in 2022 provided by an investigation into the various issues, coaches and club personnel “made inappropriate sexual remarks to players, mocked players’ bodies, pressured players to lose unhealthy amounts of weight, crossed professional boundaries with players, and created volatile and manipulative working conditions.” The NWSL continues to hurt due to the issues.

  1. Paris Saint-Germain women’s player arrested for assault on teammate

In April 2022, Paris Saint-Germain’s Aminata Diallo was arrested for allegedly perpetrating a physical assault on teammate Kheira Hamraoui. The incident occurred when Diallo dropped off Hamraoui following a team dinner, as two men attacked the pair with iron bars.

The players were rivals for the same position on the Paris Saint-Germain team, leading law enforcement to believe Diallo employed two men to attack Hamraoui, while she was held nearby. In addition to Diallo being arrested, the ordeal led to other issues in the lives of both players and others individuals.

For one, former Barcelona player Eric Abidal’s extramarital affair with Hamraoui became public. His wife subsequently filed for divorce. In addition, Hamraoui fell out with other teammates following the attack, claiming more Paris’s women’s team players were involved.

Diallo recently signed a short-term contract with Spanish team Levante. It was her first move following Paris police charging her with Hamraoui’s attack.

  1. Alexia Putellas wins second consecutive Ballon d’Or Feminin

Barcelona’s Alexia Putellas picked up her second consecutive Ballon d’Or Feminin in 2022 with 178 first-place votes. The forward joined Barcelona in 2012 and has made a slow, steady journey to the top of the women’s game.

Putellas isn’t a household name like many of the big-name, more well-known women’s players in the United States and England. Yet, Putellas is an example of the wider world of women’s football, which has some brilliant players that don’t receive as much hype.

The Barcelona forward has appeared in more than 275 games for the club, scoring over 120 goals. The 2022 win made Putellas the first-ever two-time Balon d’Or Feminin winner.


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