Football Victoria champions its advancements for women’s football in 2023 Annual Report

Football Victoria (FV) released the 2023 Annual Report, detailing their efforts and successes last year.

In a massive year for women’s football, Football Victoria led the way in delivering improvements in both participation and infrastructure for the women’s game.

The Andrews-Allen State Government has invested an unprecedented $400 million towards developing Victoria’s football facilities over the past five years, however, 2023 would see a major push for the construction of female football facilities, as well as upgrading existing spaces to become more female-friendly.

Typifying this push was the completion of the ‘Home of the Matildas’ centre, which was constructed as part of the La Trobe University Sports Park project. The centre opened in July last year and has instantly become a symbol of women’s football and the Matildas efforts in 2023.

Again, the State Government set records, putting $42.29 million towards its construction – the largest donation ever made by any level of government for a football-specific project nationally. The centre boasts state-of-the-art football pitches (grass and artificial), twelve changerooms, a fully-equipped gym and wet recovery centre, medical facilities, and corporate spaces.

The facility has already been utilised for local, regional, national and international events, and will be the cornerstone of Football Victoria’s future efforts, serving as its official headquarters.

Further mentioned was the creation of 14 council-supported “Social Football Hubs” across the state, contributing to the enormous growth in summer football participation for females – reaching nearly 6,000 compared to just 1,900 in 2022.

Also in infrastructure, the report triumphs its involvement in revitalising recreational spaces in Ballarat. At an estimated spend of $16 million, the Victoria Park Sport & Community Facility and Wendouree West Recreation Reserve projects were completed in 2023, and Football Victoria believes this will provide the highest-quality football experience for the community.

There is less mentioned in the report about the present growth of football facilities in other regional centres, with the report mentioning that State government budgetary measures may hinder its plans in the short term.

Then-acting CEO, Karen Pearce OAM, commented on the federation’s endeavours regarding regional football within the report.

“We are currently undertaking a Regional Review to determine an optimal operating model to improve the function, efficiency, capacity, and overall football experience in regional Victoria,” she wrote via the report.

“The review has explored all key components of the football ecosystem, with some key findings currently underway.”

There is a long-term plan to construct ‘regional hubs’ consisting of 4-6 pitches and state-of-the-art facilities in the outer suburbs and rural centres of Victoria, including a redevelopment of the Gippsland Sports and Entertainment Centre in Sale.

The concentrated effort to improve football infrastructure has benefitted participation in the sport, with player registrations totalling at 82,945.

There were 4,229 teams from Metropolitan and Geelong areas that entered into community competitions last year, with player registration numbers totalling just under 54,000. The popularity of football amongst children remains strong, with 75% of this figure represented by Miniroos and juniors, with the remainder made up of seniors and over 35’s.

In addition, there was a 41% increase in coaching participation compared to 2022, and twice as much engagement between coaches and the federation on social media. This is owing to Football Victoria’s “Club Coach Coordinator Gala Day”, which championed greater access to coaching resources and accreditation.

Referee participation is less publicised across national media channels, but their importance to the growth of the game is crucial. Football Victoria has continued to invest in its refereeing facilities and academies, which helped see an increase of 350 referees compared to 2022. This includes a 50% increase in female referees.

Its accreditation and pathway programs has led to six match officials being selected on the FIFA panel – 17 reaching the A-League – and a further three joining the Football Australia Referee Academy. There were a further 67 officials who joined the successful Victorian Referee Academy in 2023.

Given the widespread success it has reported, Football Victoria will be challenged to sustain this momentum. Its efforts will have triggered interest from future sponsors and businesses, whose potential investment will play a key role in the expansion effort; especially if government spending is to be reduced.

Football Victoria President, Antonella Care, thanked the organisations current partners and sponsors in the report for their contributions.

“Our game would not survive without the support of partners at all levels of the game,” Care stated in the report.

“I would also like to thank FV’s proud sponsors for their dedication to football, and also pass on my gratitude to the many businesses who sponsor Clubs and allow them to reinvest into the game.”

Football Victoria’s improvements in participation and infrastructure – thanks to support from sponsors and government agencies – exemplify the state’s reputation as the national leader in football expansion.

City Football Group add İstanbul Başakşehir to club portfolio

City Football Group (CFG) announced a “football collaboration agreement” with Turkish Süper Lig side İstanbul Başakşehir to expand on their current portfolio of worldwide football clubs.

CFG is the owner of Premier League giants Manchester City and the group also own majority shareholder status in a further seven clubs around the world including A-League side Melbourne City.

Under this agreement, CFG will provide Başakşehir with guidance on transfers, academy development and data-driven insights. The group will also offer support with player screening and football strategy.

This strategy used by CFG has been rather successful for all the clubs under the consortium and Melbourne City in particular have used this connection to make some big transfers in and outgoings. David Villa was the first significant loan move from CFG club New York City FC which started a practice of players and coaches rotating between the group’s clubs.

It has seen players like Daniel Arzani and Aaron Mooy move to Manchester City temporarily to be loaned out to other European clubs. Recently, Patrick Kisnorbo earned a move to fellow CFG club ESTAC Troyes to become the first ever Australian manager in a top five European league.

Göksel Gümüşdağ, Majority Owner and Club President of Başakşehir, explained that this move is immense for the club.

“İstanbul Başakşehir FK has achieved many firsts in Turkish football despite its young age and today, with this collaboration with the leading football group in the world, it marks another milestone for İstanbul Başakşehir and Turkish football,” he said in a club statement.

“From the very beginning, we have reiterated at every opportunity that our vision and goals are different and today underlines this expression again. We are very happy, proud and excited. I would like to thank all the people in City Football Group for their approach and support in the process. I hope it will be beneficial for Başakşehir FK and Turkish football.”

City Football Group released their own statement regarding the new addition to their family and the future plans for the club.

“This collaboration will help CFG grow knowledge and develop relationships in Turkey, an ambitious football nation and developer of talent. This will also provide CFG with an opportunity to collaborate across emerging football areas with a club that has a shared vision.” a CFG statement read.

City Football Group, INEOS and Red Bull in particular have figured out a way to potentially ‘game the system’ to their advantage before FIFA or UEFA had ever thought of cracking down on this potentially threatening move for football.

İstanbul Başakşehir is just another club adding to the growing list of clubs involved in a multi-club structure which is said to be over 180 clubs across the world in total. Modern football is transforming like never before.

DFL and EA Sports continue to delight Bundesliga fans

The German Football League (DFL) renewed its partnership with sports game manufacturer EA Sports, in a deal labelled by officials to be of ‘high strategic importance’.

It guarantees that clubs from Germany’s top two tiers will feature in EA Sports’ football video-game, EA Sports FC, until 2027.

In addition, EA Sports will continue to sponsor the ‘Player of the Month’ and ‘Player of the Season’ awards for the Bundesliga and Bundesliga 2.

A relationship that stems back to 1998, the DFL and EA Sports share an important history built on innovation within the gaming world.

In 2012, the DFL pioneered the world’s first eFootball competition, Virtual Bundesliga (VBL), helped greatly by its relationship with EA Sports. The VBL remains a strong part of the DFL’s vision, resulting in the professionalisation of the competition.

An arm of video-game publishing organisation Electronic Arts, EA Sports is in the midst of a new era in football gaming, after failing to agree a deal with its long-time naming rights partner, FIFA.

However, the game’s universal popularity since its inception in 1993 gives it one of the highest return customer rates in video gaming history.

EA Sports’ first iteration of the game since removing the FIFA branding – EA Sports FC 24 – is the highest-selling video game in the UK and Europe, and ranks 10th in the United States (from Statista).

This global demand is exactly what the DFL is eager to capitalise on, according to Bundesliga International Chief Marketing Officer Peter Naubert.

“The contract renewal confirms the positive development of our global licensing and sponsorship partnerships and underscores the global appeal of the Bundesliga brand as well as the significant growth that the DFL generates for clubs,” Naubert stated via press release.

The gaming industry remains a lucrative space for football organisations to increase its marketability and generate greater revenue. Late last year, the Argentina Football Association partnered with a gaming software company to increase its marketing presence in Europe.

DFL joint-CEO Marc Lenz explained that the extension of its deal with EA Sports is crucial to its marketing strategy.

“Our core aim is to reach young fans and find new ways to spark their interest in the Bundesliga and Bundesliga 2,” Lenz told the DFL website.

EA SPORTS FC is a successful part of this strategy, because the licensing partnership and the Virtual Bundesliga increase the visibility of our leagues and clubs.”

Lenz’s partner Steffen Merkel spoke about the relationship between the DFL and EA Sports.

EA SPORTS FC deepens the connection between millions of fans and their favourite players and clubs from the Bundesliga and Bundesliga 2, which are an important part of the video game series,” Merkel added via media release.

“The partnership has existed since 1998 and underscores the shared conviction behind the cooperation, which is characterised by constant and successful evolution.”

Meanwhile, the inclusion of Germany’s top two professional leagues in EA Sports FC will assist EA Sports’ future plans for football gaming.

“Bundesliga and Bundesliga 2 are key to building an innovative and evolving football platform for fans, and we’re thrilled that the DFL shares our vision for the future of football,” EA Sports President, Cam Weber, added via the DFL website.

By continuing its relationship with EA Sports, the DFL demonstrates its commitment to a sustainable and profitable future for its competitions.

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