It was a relatively quiet week in the world of women’s football as 2021 ticked over into 2022.
Unless, of course, you are Alexia Putellas.
FC Barcelona’s Femeni’s formidable midfielder added yet another end-of-year gong to her collection after she was awarded Globe Soccer’s ‘Best Woman Footballer of the Year’ prize at a gala in Dubai last Monday (December 27).
Elsewhere, Saudi Arabia’s inaugural Regional Football League moved into its knockout phase with the semi-finals and final set to take place this week, and as sport embraces a new year full of promise, it's time to look at all the calendar highlights for what is sure to be another stellar year of women’s soccer.
Alexia Putellas crowned Globe Soccer Women’s Player of the Year 2021
Putellas may well need to get her trophy cabinet expanded following her extensive end-of-season award sweep.
The 27-year-old midfielder, after winning the UEFA Women’s Player of the Year, the Ballon d’Or and the FCF Women’s Player award, went one further after she was named winner of the Globe Soccer Award 2021.
Two other of her Barca team-mates, Spain’s Jennifer Hermoso and Netherlands’ Lieke Martens, made the final shortlist as well as USWNT’s Alex Morgan, Lucy Bronze and Sam Kerr but it was Putellas once again taking home the top honours.
The Spaniard was also on hand to collect an additional prize for Barcelona who beat the best of Europe to the Women’s Club of the Year title. The Spanish giants walked away from 2021 with their first ever Champions league title as well as the league and cup double.
The surprise of the night came from Bayern Munich’s Robert Lewandowski who revealed his admiration for the Spaniard in a post on social media after the event. Sharing on the social networking site Instagram a picture of himself with Putellas, the Pole wrote:
“I am proud and happy that women’s football is developing so fast and is winning the hearts of millions of fans all over the world.
“It was a great pleasure to meet again and talk to the best player in the world Alexia Putellas – a person full of passion and love for football, who is an inspiration for many young players. Congratulations on your successes, I will certainly watch your games and I will keep my fingers crossed!”
Women’s soccer calendar 2022 – key dates to look out for
A new year means another 12 months packed full of women’s football.
The eagle-eyed will note that 2022 means only one more year to go until one of the game’s greatest events: the 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup.
Fortunately, while the clock counts down to the world championships, there are plenty of other international tournaments to whet the appetite with the first beginning this month in India:
- 2022 AFC Women’s Asian Cup – January 20 to February 6
- 2022 UEFA European Women’s Football Championship (Women’s Euro 2022) – July 6 to July 31
- 2022 CONMEBOL Copa América Femenina – July 8 to July 30
- 2022 U-20 FIFA Women’s World Cup – August 10 to August 28
The Women's Asian Cup and the Copa América will also act as final qualifiers for the 2023 World Cup set to be hosted by Australia and New Zealand.
Saudi Arabia inaugural Regional Football League: women’s championships semi-finals set
Following the results of the 16-strong regional leagues, eight teams from across the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia successfully qualified for the first-ever national championships.
Al Yamamah, Jeddah Eagles and Eastern Flames made it through as champions from the central, western and eastern regions respectively while Miraas, The Storm, Sama, Al-Mamlaka and Challenge Al-Tahadi took up the other five places for the quarterfinals.
Al-Yamamah stormed their first knockout match 8-0 against Miraas to clinch the first semi-final spot, while the Jeddah Eagles defeated Sama 3-1. Challenge Al-Tahadi delivered the biggest shock of the knockouts when they bested eastern regional winners Eastern Flames to snatch the third semi-final berth and Al-Mamlaka conquered the Storm 2-1 to take the last remaining place.
Next up is the semi-finals and they are set to take place on January 5. The inaugural final is penned for Saturday, January 8.
It is the hope of the nation that this new league will help Saudi Arabia grow its national side. International friendlies have been organised for later this year to help generate a FIFA ranking.