OL Women, the Pioneers of the Reconquest

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

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In any case, a success would be a relief for Jean-Michel Aulas, CEO of the OL Group and tireless promoter of women’s football. The girls at the top are the saving foam of a season in the hollow of the wave for the men’s Olympique Lyonnais, which is deprived of the European Cup for the first time in 25 years at the end of a full season. Which amply justifies the efforts of a women’s department that occupies its own place in the OL house.

Moving walls

“It was not easyremembers Isabelle Bernard, who very quickly as leader led the rise of the women’s section at the end of the 2000s and later advised on its structuring, 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 unwavering will of Jean-Michel Aulas, the integration came about gradually, first confirmed by the European titles of 2011 and 2012, then definitively acquired when the club moved to Décines in 2016.

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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, both in terms of infrastructure and technical and medical guidance.explains Olivier Blanc, the current director of OL Women. The resources are there, but not everywhere. †

The Women’s OL is calling for a budget today that includes: “8 and 10 million euros”† Enough to secure substantial salaries, over €30,000 a month for a few players (captain Wendie Renard, Norwegian striker Ada Hegerberg, playmaker Amel Majri), well above average for clubs like Guingamp or Soyaux. , which does not reach the €2,000 mark. Nothing to do with the stratospheric reward of men’s football, of course.

“But of course the ecosystem of women’s football is not comparable and OL women still have a deficit of a few million euros funding the men’s club, just like women’s PSG by the way.notes Luc Arrondel, associate professor at the Paris School of Economics. For OL, the vital importance lies in the image, which is very positive. Besides that, be careful, having been a pioneer and progressive, OL women are being overtaken 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 are showing their ambitions by establishing an independent professional league. The French Football Federation recently initiated a similar reflection within a high-level women’s football committee, headed precisely by Jean-François Aulas.

“The biggest task is to bring more people to our stadiums and thereby improve the attractiveness of our championship.says Olivier Blanc. It is then necessary to accelerate training efforts by promoting the recognition of training centers for women by the Ministry. That is not yet the case and that limits us. †

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Pending recognition that will allow it to recruit more widely, OL is encouraging its partner clubs to bet on women’s football all over France but also internationally. A typical example is AS Dakar Sacré-Coeur, affiliated with 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 affiliated clubs in Vietnam, Morocco, Portugal and Brazil. “Our challenge for tomorrow is to develop this model at the level of women’s football”Vincent Ponsot, the director of football at OL, underlined last year.

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

Sonia Bompastor for a scoop

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 already won the Champions League in 2011 and 2012 as captain of Lyonnaises, could become the first to double the lead as coach if OL win the final against Barcelona on Saturday 21 May. Meanwhile, at the beginning of the week, she made herself the advocate of women’s football at the microphone of RMC Sport and asked the French Federation to invest much more in women’s football, at the risk of “get overwhelmed quickly”“There is an emergency, I am ringing the alarm”the ex-Blue insisted.

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