The UEFA’s Nation League announced their draw for the second edition of the tournament on March 3 in Amsterdam.
With 55 associations as part of UEFA, they are split into four Leagues based on their position in the UEFA National Team Coefficient Rankings. Sixteen nations will be competing in Leagues A through C while only seven compete in League D.
There are some intriguing matchups in the group stage for the competition, specifically for those who are in League A.
For Group 1, the Netherlands, who finished as the runners-up in the inaugural edition, face off against Italy, Bosnia and Herzegovina, and Poland.
In Group 2, England will face off against Belgium, who they lost to in the 2018 FIFA World Cup third-place match, Denmark, and Iceland, the surprise of the 2016 European Championship.
Group 3 consists of a rematch of the 2016 European Championship final as Portugal, who won the UEFA Nations League last year, battle France, the 2018 FIFA World Cup champions. Sweden and Croatia, the runners-up in the 2018 FIFA World Cup are also in the group.
Rounding off League A, Group 4 contains Spain, Germany, Switzerland, who finished fourth in the competition last year, and Ukraine.
The league phase was set to begin in early September, However due to the corona virus outbreak no dates are now known, If this edition is anything like the inaugural one, football fans are in for a treat.
League B is where we find the other Home Nations with Wales and the Republic of Ireland drawn together in Group 4 alongside Finland and Bulgaria. Northern Ireland are in Group 1 alongside Austria, Norway and Romania. Scotland meanwhile will face Czech Republic, Slovakia and Israel. The remaining Group contains Russia, Serbia, Turkey and Hungary.
With the recent events taking place at the Champions League game involving Chelsea Ladies and PSG Ladies, it is clear that football ultras are becoming active in the rise of the women’s game.
The question is, is this good for our development?
The second leg took place at the Stade Jean Bouin, whereby middle-aged men, shirtless and chanting as loud as they could attended the game, with the pride for their city shining through. Ultras at a women’s game is something which is a rarity, especially in England, however, it is clear that the support is on the rise looking at the quarter final game on Wednesday. The game is clearly gaining significant momentum around the world.
The stadium holds 20,000 people and less than half the stadium was full. This is an area which clearly needs work but it is easy to say, the fans of PSG were loud enough to convince anyone that the stadium was packed. The part of the stadium that was full included a diverse range of fans, going from young boys and girls to shirtless chanting men, all there to support their team. PSG were trailing behind by 2 goals and therefore they needed their fans to rally behind them and try to revive their quest to further their progress in the continental showpiece.
In the stadium, it appeared that the game was no longer the focus of the game and it was in fact taken over by a large group of PSG supporters chanting un-relentlessly. The group of self identifying ‘Collectif Ultras Paris’ expressed their discontent with the treatment they experienced at the first leg, when fans were removed due to finding illegal substances and weapons. They used banners and chants which were based on the fact they felt they were being ‘deprived of their freedom’ to express their anger with Chelsea ladies security. Aside from this, the chants motivated the PSG ladies team by explaining their greatness and talent in self-written eulogy chants.
Banners being held at PSG Women’s game which reads ‘Treated as Criminals’. Photo credit: Frank Fife/AFP
Ultras seem to be an issue more in other parts of Europe’s leagues, whereas England have tackled it successfully. These CUP ultras have been banned from multiple men’s games, however, it didn’t stop them from attending matches in general, meaning that they were more than welcome at the Jean Bouin, giving them a new lease on life and the opportunity to rally behind the ladies and more specifically the team they support.
Although PSG ladies are now out of the Champions League, alongside the men, the CUP were not deterred from future games. They saw the ladies show passion and class in all that they did, creating multiple chances and scoring 2 goals to take the aggregate score to 2-3 Chelsea, the support seemed to work, just not enough.
Are ultras going to be a new thing to women’s football? What effect do you think they will have? All I can say is from this game in particular, it showed the power that support can have on the teams performance and PSG can proudly boast about their loyal fan base. In my opinion I think these passionate fans will help develop the game. An experience I had at an FC United Women’s game really inspired me and filled me with confidence that the support was there. Although I wouldn’t class them as Ultras, they were clearly devoted fans whom loved their team. Chants were sang for each individual player and attractive banners were held on the sideline to rally on the girls.
This is what I like to see, let’s keep this up and keep expanding our fan base loyalty!