W-League

Matildas call for W-League international break

Matildas forwards Sam Kerr and Michelle Heyman have called for an international break to be scheduled for future W-League seasons.

Kerr and Heyman spoke out ahead of their respective teams, Canberra United and Perth Glory, clashing in Round 5.

“We’re furious. It’s frustrating,” said Heyman in an interview with AAP.

“Both (Sam and I are) angry at the situation. It should have been a bye round.”

As the W-League’s first split round of the season, Round 5 has been a bye round for three teams Melbourne City, Brisbane Roar and Sydney FC.

Both Melbourne City and Brisbane Roar contain five Matildas while Sydney FC has two.  City also have key midfielder Jess Fishlock off on international duty.

Kerr and Heyman are not the only ones displeased with the scheduling.  Behind the scenes several clubs are unhappy particularly with key players missing for potentially crucial clashes in the tight W-League season.

“We’ve put that to FFA because the W-League is too short. You lose one game and it could knock you out,” said Heyman.

“Goal difference could determine the top four spots. Of course we want to play for our country but we want to win the W-League too.”

Scheduling is a multi-factorial and complex process in the W-League.

It is also a consultative process with clubs submitting to Football Federation Australia their preferences for home games and time periods for those home games.  For example, this year Canberra United has had more later afternoon matches than in previous seasons.

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However, international breaks have not been factored into the scheduling.  This situation is not unique to the W-League with A-League clubs having been vocal about this situation for many seasons.

The difference is that the W-League has a high proportion of Matildas involved in the league.  Of the 22 player squad, only Elise Kellond-Knight and Caitlin Foord are currently not contracted to a W-League side.

“I’m so passionate about the W-League and growing the league and I want to win a championship and three points is massive in a W-League season that’s so short,” Kerr told Herald Sun. 

“It’s frustrating that Perth Glory, Melbourne Victory, Western Sydney, it seems that all the little teams have been put to the side this weekend.”  

“I understand that there’s bigger clubs, but it’s either everyone has a bye or everyone shouldn’t.”  

“I’m passionate about Perth Glory and it just upsets me that half the league is able to have a bye, and the other half is just totally disregarded.”

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Former FIFA Head of Women’s Football Tatjana Haenni weighed in on a need for consultation with leagues in relation to setting the international calendar. 

Considering the call for more Matildas matches during the FIFA international breaks, the issue of internationals clashing with W-League fixture is one that will likely raise its head again.

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ANN ODONG

Ann is the Founder and Editor-in-Chief of TWG.

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