With a number of Australian women currently contracted abroad, what is the state of their respective leagues and chances of playing?

USA - National Women's Soccer League

At present four Matildas are on NWSL team rosters.  They are Steph Catley with the OL Reign, Ellie Carpenter with the Portland Thorns, and Alanna Kennedy and Emily van Egmond with the Orlando Pride.  

The NWSL allowed teams to resume small group training this Monday and is going to allow full team training next Saturday should clubs meet specific requirements.  

Teams must follow league "Return to Play Protocols" as well as state and local regulations. These protocols require temperature and symptoms checks.  Testing is not currently listed as being part of the practice protocols.  

These return to play protocols and next Saturday's change mean that the NWSL is the first North American league to return to active group practice.

The league is also currently proposing a month-long NWSL tournament to replace the 2020 regular season. According to leaked plans, this tournament would be held in Utah starting in late June.  

Teams would be chartered into Salt Lake City and tested upon arrival.  They would continue to be tested twice per week for the duration of the tournament.  

The tournament itself would start on June 29, 2020 and consist of a four-game group play for each of the NWSL's nine teams. At the end of group play, the ninth-placed team would be eliminated.  

The remaining eight teams would play in a one single-elimination knock-out tournament starting July 19th, 2020.  The 2020 NWSL championship game, renamed for this year as the challenge cup, would conclude the 28th of July, 2020.

It should be stated that several players, including USWNT players, have health and safety concerns about this plan.  The Utah plan has yet to be approved by the league, the clubs or the players.

Should this tournament go ahead, there is a chance it will not go ahead with any of the four Matildas. All four are by latest reports still in Australia.  

Due to current travel restrictions, none of them are able to leave the country to travel to the US.  Whether this will change in time for them to return, should they wish so, and be able to play in this season's competition is up in the air.

Germany - Frauen-Bundesliga

At present Emily Gielnik is the only Matilda playing in Germany's Frauen-Bundesliga.  The FC Bayern Munich player has been in Munich since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

The DFB, the German FFA, approved the restart of the remainder of the Frauen-Bundesliga today. Certain teams have already been practising for over a month while following strict health, safety and testing requirements.  With this go-ahead, the women's league will restart games this Friday.  

To accomplish a safe restart the DFB and the richest Bundesliga clubs created a solidarity pot to help cover the extra expenditures surrounding testing and health and safety requirements.

Less endowed Frauen-Bundesliga and lower league men's Bundesliga clubs requiring extra financial backing are given funds from this pot to cover restart costs.

When the league was suspended in March, Gielnik's FC Bayern still had six regular season games to complete the season.  FC Bayern Munich's first restart game is scheduled to take place this Saturday, May 20, 2020 against TSG Hoffenheim.

Spain and France - Primera Iberdrola Femenina and Division 1 Féminine

Two Matildas play in Spain and France.  Alex Chidiac plays in the Primera Iberdrola Femenina with  Atletico Madrid while Mary Fowler signed with Division 1 Féminine side Montpellier HSC earlier this year.

Both leagues were officially curtailed earlier this month with Barcelona FC being named Primera champions and Lyon Division 1 champions.  The leagues are now preparing for their respective 2020-21 seasons.

Italy - Serie A Femminile

Lisa De Vanna is the only Matilda to currently play in Italy.  The latest reports have her in her Florence home during the lockdown, awaiting the Fiorentina FC season to resume.

After earlier reports of the decision to cancel the rest of the season, Series A Femminile has postponed this decision, hinting at a possible season restart.  Several teams including Juventus Women and AC Milan have restarted practising.

Should the season be restarted De Vanna's Fiorentina FC still have seven 2019-20 regular-season games to play.

Norway - Toppserien

There are four Matildas currently rostered to Norwegian Toppserien teams. Clare Polkinghorne and Katrina Gorry are with Avaldsnes IL, Tameka Yallop is with Klepp IL and Karly Roestbakken are with LSK Kvinner.

Earlier in May it was announced that the 2020 season, which had originally been postponed, would be held this year starting July 11.  There have since been reports that this could be moved forward to the beginning of July.

The Toppserien will receive 1.1 million KR a month to cover the Norwegian Football Federation training and safety protocol. These funds will be distributed amongst clubs.  The NFF have also reprioritized other funds to support the league according to reports.

A complete schedule has yet to be released, as has the details of whether a full or a shortened season will take place.  A return to training date has also not been specified.

By latest accounts, all four Norwegian playing Matildas are still in Australia.  Like their NWSL counterparts they will not be able to return for the upcoming season unless the current travel restrictions change.

Sweden - Damallsvenskann

There is one Matilda contracted in Sweden, Elise Kellond-Knight.  She plays for Kristianstad DFF.  Kellond-Knight returned to Sweden prior to travel restrictions and according to her Instagram is still in the country.

The Damallsvenskann had been planned to start on June 14, after it had been postponed several times from its original April 3 start date.  

It was hoped that the 2020 Damallsvenskann could play a full season by playing through the previously planned Olympic break which is no longer needed.  

However, it was recently reported that the start date has been pushed back to at earliest a June 27 start.  Should the season be further delayed it is expected that a single round season of eleven matches will be played instead of a full home-away twenty two round season.  

No schedule or return to training has yet to be announced.

England - FA Women's Super League

There are currently five Matildas who play in the FAWSL.  Chloe Logarzo is at Bristol City FC, Hayley Raso is at Everton FC, Caitlin Foord is at Arsenal FC, Sam Kerr is at Chelsea FC and Jacynta Galabadaarachchi is at West Ham United.

Joe Montemurro is also the head coach of Arsenal FC as is Tanya Oxtoby at Bristol City FC.

The FAWSL 2019-20 season was originally suspended on March 13, 2020. After weeks of rumours and postponements, the English FA announced today that the remainder of the 2019-20 FA Women's Super League would be cancelled.  

In the FA statement, it was announced that "following overwhelming feedback from the clubs, the decision to bring an end to the 2019-20 season was made in the best interest of the women’s game."  

Bristol's Tanya Oxtoby stated: "The safety of the players, staff and public is the most important thing and, while it's disappointing that we cannot finish our eight remaining games, we appreciate that a decision has now been made."

The FA has stated that it will now turn its attention preparing for the 2020-21 season.

No decision as how to conclude the 2019-20 season was included in the FA statement. Champion, promotion, relegation and champion's league decisions are still up in the air.  A letter was written to clubs asking for their view on how to end the season.

Fourty-five games remained to be played at the time of suspension in February.  Manchester City leads the table with 40 points and 16 games played.  Sam Kerr's Chelsea was in second place with 39 points and 15 games played.  Foord's Arsenal FC were in third place with 36 points and 15 games played.  

These are the three teams in contention for the FAWSL title.  At present, a points-per-games-played method is being floated to decide who would be FAWSL champion.  Should this be the case then Sam Kerr's Chelsea would win.

On the other end of the table, Liverpool FC are in the relegation zone with 6 points and 14 games played.  Chloe Logarzo and Tanya Oxtoby's Bristol City FC are two places ahead with 9 points in 14 games.  

Again no news has been as to whether relegation will occur and how it will be chosen.


Leagues around the world are still trying to adapt to this unprecedented situation. At present, the only northern hemisphere winter league to attempt to conclude their 2019-20 season is the Frauen-Bundesliga.  

Arguably the cancellation by other leagues is a good thing. Unlike the Frauen-Bundesliga, no other winter league had a viable plan on how to deal with the logistics and additional costs while implementing proper health and safety requirements to keep players safe from COVID-19.  

Instead of coming up with plan filled with half measures in an ever-changing situation, it may be best to take the next few months to properly prepare the league, clubs and players for the next northern hemisphere winter league season.  

As for the summer northern hemisphere leagues, having an abbreviated season may be better than foregoing the totality of the season. The importance though is to ensure a safe environment for players.

There will be few Matildas who play at all in the near future.  For those Matildas with contracts in the FAWSL, Primera and Division 1, they will all have to wait for the next northern hemisphere season to start.  Those who play in the NWSL and Toppserien may miss their summer northern hemisphere seasons altogether should travel restrictions not change.  

This leaves Gielnik starting next weekend in Germany and Kellond-Knight with a chance of starting to play next month in Sweden.  It is the hope of all that those restarts remain safe for all players involved. 

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