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New Women’s Champions League Format Promises More Games, Visibility And Money

The 2021-22 tournament marks the start of a new era for the UWCL.

Back in December of 2019, UEFA revealed its plans for a revamped Women’s Champions League beginning with the 2021-22 season. After a brief nightmare concerning the ramifications of the harebrained European Super League on the women’s game, we can now get back to celebrating the changes that were approved by UEFA’s Executive Committee last week.

Our UWCLpalooza is centered around three things: more games (20% increase with the introduction of a group stage), more visibility (centralized media rights from the group stage onwards with UEFA producing every game for TV or streaming purposes) and more money ($29 million redistributed to the women’s game across Europe). 

Teams playing in the group stage will receive a minimum fee of $483,000 (five times more than the amount currently paid to teams that reach the Round of 16) and the winner could ultimately earn up to $1.7 million. 

You can read about the new format here, or you can watch this YouTube video straight from the source.  

UEFA taking over marketing and television coverage from the group stage onwards can’t be over highlighted. Previously, only the final was produced and centrally marketed by UEFA — home sides were responsible for all earlier rounds, leaving the competition’s global visibility at a bare minimum. Go ahead and try to find extended highlights from the recently completed semifinal first legs of the 2020-21 competition. Trust me, it’s not easy. 

But with sponsorship and media rights now centralized, UEFA will certainly meet its goal of doubling the reach and value of the UWCL by 2024. This will be further aided by UEFA’s new commitment to scheduling matches on days that do not clash with any other major fixtures in the European calendar.

Other new regulations include the use of VAR from the quarterfinals onwards (rather than just the final) and increased squad flexibility. Where teams used to have to submit a final squad to UEFA like the men’s game, clubs can now alter their squad lists at any time to temporarily replace players who are pregnant or leaving for or returning from maternity leave. 

Clubs will also be allowed a “B-List” of young players who meet certain criteria in an effort to help develop youth players.  

The second legs of the 2020-21 semifinals take place on Sunday, May 2. PSG and Barcelona are knotted at 1-1, while Bayern Munich has a 2-1 advantage on Chelsea.

The final is scheduled for Sunday, May 16, in Gothenburg, Sweden. 

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