Women’s football has faced numerous challenges to gain recognition throughout its history, but the situation slowly appears to be changing for the better.
The latest development – a seal of approval from arguably an unlikely source – is another big boost for the female version of the game.
Read on as we look at this and other top stories from the world of women’s football.
Women’s football gets unexpected endorsement
The Vatican has launched its first women’s football team, ending a 48-year wait to be allowed to join their male counterparts in playing the sport.
The team, made up of staff working within the Vatican as well as employees’ wives and daughters, has been created as part of Pope Francis’ efforts to make the Catholic Church more inclusive.
The players will make their debut in a challenge match against AS Roma’s Serie A women’s squad on May 26.
The players are preparing for the game by taking part in a tournament organised by the Vatican’s children’s hospital, Bambino Gesu.
WSL champions sign Dutch star
Arsenal have signed midfielder Netherlands international midfielder, Jill Roord, from German side Bayern Munich.
The 22-year-old, who helped her country win the European Championships in 2017, is part of the Dutch squad for this summer’s Women’s World Cup in France.
Roord could be joined by a former teammate at Arsenal, with Lucie Vonkova tipped to head to the WSL this summer.
The Gunners have also been boosted by the news that Republic of Ireland defender Louise Quinn has signed a new contract with the club.
Barca eyeing US franchise
Barcelona are hoping to expand their operations by having a franchised side in the United States in the future.
The Catalan club’s vice president, Jordi Mestre, has told ESPN FC that Bara have reopened talks with the National Women’s Soccer League after previous negotiations stalled.
“We know women’s football in the U.S. is very powerful,” he said. “To our understanding, there’s almost the same percentage of boys and girls that play football.
“It’s a medium-to-long-term project and we’re working on it at the moment. It’s not easy, but it’s a project we’re keen to push through and the objective is there. What we’re clear about is that if we managed to launch a franchise in the US, it’s to stay there.”
Strong Bayern presence in Germany squad
There will be a strong representation from Bayern in Germany’s World Cup squad this summer, with seven of 23 players coming from the Frauen-Bundesliga runners-up.
Laura Benkarth, Kathrin Hendrich, Leonie Maier, Sara Dabritz, Verena Schweers, Melanie Leupolz and Lina Magull are all on the roster.
Champions Wolfsburg have four players in the squad, with Almuth Schult, Sara Doorsoun, Lena Goessling and Alexandra Popp all making the cut.
Germany are seeking their third success in the World Cup, having previously won the tournament in 2003 and 2007
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