European women's soccer vision sees place for indie clubs

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Bayern's Lina Magull, background, and Rosengard's Caroline Seger challenge for the ball during the women's quarterfinal Champions League first leg soccer match between FC Bayern Munich and FC Rosengard in Munich, Germany, Wednesday, March 24, 2021. (AP Photo/Matthias Schrader)

GENEVA – Independent teams should have a place beside storied names from men’s soccer even as the women’s game develops rapidly, the organization of Europe’s top clubs said Monday.

Clubs such as Fortuna Hjørring and Glasgow City — which do not have men’s teams — are currently a fixture in the later knockout rounds of the UEFA Women’s Champions League.

The competition figures to get only tougher for the long-standing independents after Juventus and Real Madrid bought into women’s soccer in the past four years.

Creating new clubs is one of six key goals in a strategy for women’s soccer published by the European Club Association, which represents around 250 men’s clubs.

Those new clubs should include “big brands” and “green field clubs” joining the sport, said ECA chief executive Charlie Marshall.

“Finding avenues to launch, to grow and to professionalize new clubs is a big part of what we want to try to achieve,” he told reporters in an online briefing.

The document also foresees providing a “care package” to support clubs that are “teetering on the verge of existence.”

Marshall acknowledged the bigger men’s clubs would continue to invest in women’s soccer and “that is not something that is going to be prevented or indeed should be prevented.”