Believe it or not, France has become the epicenter of international football. Last summer, the men’s team won the FIFA World Cup, led by Paris Saint-Germain’s Kylian Mbappé, and this summer, the country is hosting the FIFA Women’s World Cup where the French women hope to dethrone the United States and hoist the trophy on home soil.
Along with putting the women’s game on a global stage, France is helping develop talent with its domestic league as well. Founded in 1974, Division 1 Féminine is the highest division for women in French football and it’s home to Olympique Lyonnais Féminin. With 16 domestic trophies and six UEFA Women’s Champions League trophies, Lyon is the gold standard for women’s football. It’s an uphill climb for Paris Saint-Germain Féminines to reach this level of success, but not an impossible one.
Bringing in Top Talent and Support from the Ultras
Although they don’t possess the same accolades as Lyon, PSG is doing well for themselves. Since 2001, Les Parisiennes have remained in the top division along with winning a couple of French cups. Add in a winning percentage of 56.2 and it shows how the women’s squad has been competitive since their arrival to the top division.
Being competitive and always in the mix for trophies will attract the best talent. Players such as Sabrina Delannoy, Laure Boulleau, Cristiane Rozeira, and Irene Paredes to name a few have all put on the PSG colors at some point. This year at the Women’s World Cup, several PSG players are representing their respective countries—a sign that PSG’s women’s team are getting closer to competing with the juggernauts of Lyon in the coming seasons.
?? Christiane Endler: Home Comforts
— COPA90 (@COPA90) June 16, 2019
There have been a few players representing PSG well, but Christian Endler of Chile stole the show. While in a losing effort, Endler made six saves against the United States. Her performance was arguably the best solo performance of any player in the tournament and she shined a positive light on PSG’s women’s squad.
As a result of having world-class talent, PSG has come close in reaching their ultimate goals: finishing second in the league multiple times to Lyon and reaching the Champions League final in 2015 and 2017. Les Parisiennes are close to winning either a domestic or international trophy and much like they do for the men’s squad, PSG needs to continue supplying the women’s squad with top-tier talent and eventually they’ll break through.
Perhaps nothing to do with the club but the heart and soul of any club is the Ultras. Unfortunately, not all supporter groups (at least a significant amount) support their club’s women’s team. Thankfully for PSG, the Collectif Ultra Paris are there all of the time singing and chanting.
The number of Ultras isn’t the same as it is for the men, but it’s a significant amount at the grounds with tiffs, chants, and the occasional flares going out into the stands. No professional football player wants to play in front of a dead crowd. The sport is filled with so much noise to provide a home-field advantage. Simple stuff like this shows that the Ultras are an essential part of any match that PSG (men and women’s) plays in.
— Collectif Ultras Paris (@Co_Ultras_Paris) November 19, 2018
What Can Be Improved
Since their arrival in Division 1, PSG has taken steps to help improve their women’s squad. The club has brought in some of the best talents and the Ultras are behind them during home matches. There’s always room for improvement, though.
First and foremost, PSG needs to continue to bring in top talent, and look for that one special player that can be marketed like Neymar Jr. and Mbappé. The club will have to find their superstar to not only market but be the driving force as the team looks to capture major trophies.
Next, the capital club needs to encourage players on their men’s squad to support the team. It wouldn’t hurt to see the likes of Neymar or Mbappé in the stands supporting them in big matches whether it’s during the Champions League or against Lyon. Furthermore, any social media posts from these players will direct a lot of eyeballs to the women’s team.
With a growing fan base, PSG needs to look to market their women’s team because the casual fan may not be aware. The women on the squad will show support for men, so it’s only fair that they start returning the favor. Also, these steps can help close the gap because it appears as though there’s no unity (at least in the public eye) between both squads. The men and women’s teams are part of the institution that is PSG, so it’s time for both to support one another on the pitch.
Paris SG, tous ensemble on chantera.
Cet amour qu'on a pour toi.
Qui ne cessera jamais.
Après tant d'année.
De galère et de combats.
Oh pour toi Paris SG.
On va se casser la voix.
Oh oh oh ooooooh …
— Katarzyna Kiedrzynek (@kasiakiedrzynek) November 29, 2018
Although this might be out of their hands, having some of their matches shown via television or stream for supporters outside of France is another huge step that PSG should be looking into. The club had many of its players participating in the Women’s World Cup, the broadcast could mention that their club team is PSG. Any casual fan that wants to continue seeing a particular player is unable to due to the games not being broadcasted, particularly in the United States.
Finally, one of the larger stories off the pitch is the salary for female footballers. Now, it’s hard to find the dollar figures on how much the women on the team earn, but it should be a livable wage. Lyon has led the way in paying their players a respectable wage where the sole focus is football. On average, women on the Lyon squad earn about €162,000 annually according to The Irish Times. The numbers are two seasons old, so PSG might have improved their salaries. Nonetheless, PSG needs to be on the same boat as Lyon (if not on a bigger boat) and lead the way to improve the wages women make in football.
PSG has the means and funds to be one of the clubs that plenty of women want to play for when looking for a club in Europe. They already have recognizable players, a sound support system from the Ultras, and it’s in a desirable city. It’s often said PSG were a sleeping giant for men’s football, but it also turns out that they’re a sleeping giant in the women’s game and if they play their cards right, they can. be the cornerstone for it.