Joe Montemurro’s move to Lyon showcases elite coaching talent from Australia

Joe Montemurro has become the first non-French coach to take over Olympique Lyon Women’s team in their 20-year history after a two-year deal was struck with the legendary Australian coach.

The former Juventus and Arsenal head coach takes over the reins from Sonia Bompastor who left at the end of the 2023-24 season to manage WSL club Chelsea.

Montemurro’s resume in the women’s game is truly unmatched, leading Juventus to five trophies over a three year stretch including a treble in his maiden season. Before that he had a revolutionary coaching spell at WSL giants Arsenal, with whom he claimed the 2018 League Cup and the Women’s Super League the following year.

Montemurro is just another of many top Australian coaches produced from home soil, with his youth squads and A-League Women’s experience in Melbourne shaping the genius he has become today.

However, a hot topic in the Australian coaching community has been the lack of opportunities abroad for many local coaches whether it be due to the lack of pathways up the ranks or the AFC/UEFA licencing issue that has locked out managers from going abroad.

In a country that has produced plenty of elite manager talent, there are 14 managers in head coaching roles abroad, with only four of those in Europe (Oxtoby, Postecoglou, Montemurro, and Wehrman). It’s simply not enough.

Names like Jeff Hopkins and Ante Juric, who have plied their trade in Australian women’s football with many titles each are left to ponder the opportunity of coaching abroad without their UEFA licence acquired.

Both Montemurro and Oxtoby in particular have been pioneers in the women’s game regarding the seamless transition from Australia to European success, and the consistent successes of the former will surely legitimise women’s football more in this country and increase opportunities for the next generation of coaches who start locally and experience early success.

With this move, Montemurro also unfortunately rules himself out of the coveted Matildas manager position that he was certainly one of the leading contenders for. It was a story of poor timing with Australia’s best ever women’s football coach left to wait too long for Gustavsson to make way.

Montemurro also ended up on the final three of the shortlist in the USWNT’s pursuit of a new manager with the Olympics arriving soon, however legendary Chelsea manager Emma Hayes was selected to take over.

However, it could be for the better, with Lyon’s sky high expectations something that Montemurro will be very familiar with because of his time at both Arsenal and Juventus.

Lyon have won the French league 17 times in the last 18 seasons, making the league title the minimum requirement for Montemurro, who has really been brought on board to get them back on top in Europe after they lost to Barcelona in last month’s Champions League final.

Montemurro’s move to Europe’s elite is another step forward in his career and again showcases an example of local coaching success translating into roles in Europe, something that has not been seen enough for football in Australia.

Football Queensland appoints women into key leadership positions with 50/50 gender parity goals

Following the recent surges nationwide in female participation, Football Queensland (FQ) has also proven they are making important strides in their 50/50 gender parity plan, with FQ appointing women to higher positions in the sports hierarchy.

Throughout the state, FQ is committed to achieving 50/50 gender parity in participants, referees, committees and club officials by 2027.

FQ has announced that of 10 FQ members, five have been women, hitting an impressive 50/50 representation.

These representatives are chosen from their local communities, proving that the push for change in equity comes from the members of the community.

These members include Sarah Jones (Far North & Gulf), Roslyn Minnikin (Metro South Chair), Azra Rantucci (Northern), Jodie Dickens (South Coast) and Rebecca Whisker (Sunshine Coast).

In conjunction with these appointments, Football Queensland also announced the re-election of Board Director Amy Chapman following the recent Annual General Meeting as the FQ Board of Directors.

FQ President Paula Robinson commented:

“Following a huge 2023 that saw the game reach new audiences and engagement levels like never before and after FQ recorded an incredible 44% increase in outdoor female players in the first quarter of 2024, we are excited to further consolidate the growth of female representation on the pitch with similar progress off the pitch in vital governance roles,” she said.

These appointments are a key part of the Football Queensland 2024-2026 Women’s & Girls Strategy and show the effort made to deliver on this mission.

In Pillar One: Participants & Clubs: A main goal is for 100% of Queensland club boards, committees and FQ members to meet the 40/40/20 gender representation by 2027.

These appointments prove that FQ is well on the way to this goal not just in leadership but also state-wide through all the different footballing communities.

FQ President Paula Robinson also commented, “Having such a diverse group of esteemed members within football’s governance ranks helping to design an inclusive future for the game in Queensland will ensure that more participants, particularly women and girls, can get involved in the game earlier and remain engaged for life.”

Retaining participants and early involvement in the game is another goal within Pillar One of the 2024-2026 Strategy.

Also in Pillar 2: Advanced Pathways one of the strategies includes:

Increase the awareness of the 50/50 gender parity initiative through storytelling and regular representation of achievements in all our published collateral and marketing promotions.

This news post is a prime example of the media and storytelling strategies towards the equity goal of 2027.

The announcement shows dedication to the ambitious plans of Football Queensland for the Women’s 2024-2026 strategy.

In this process, FQ will be making the football scene a more accurate industry of Australian’s diverse sporting community.

America must fix issues before co-hosting 2026 World Cup

Copa America 2024 has kicked off the knockout stages with plenty of goals and drama on the pitch, but that has quickly been overshadowed by low attendances, poor pitch quality and sky high ticket prices leaving many fans, players and coaches stranded and confused.

In what can be seen as a prelude to a landmark 2026 FIFA World Cup, the USA have already shown signs of failing to host a major football event in a country where grassroots participation and attendances for the sport desperately need a revival.

These have been the main issues so far at the event that are in the spotlight if the US want to correctly co-host the biggest tournament with Mexico and Canada in the sport.

Attendance numbers

If the sweltering heat and embarrassing broadcast camera angles weren’t already bad enough, the US Men’s national team failed to sell out any of their three group stage matches, with a controversial 47,873 crowd for the opener against Bolivia in an 80,000 seat AT&T Stadium.

The comparison is to put it side-by-side with the Euros currently in Germany, where there have been no issues packing out stadiums with capacities of up to 75,000 and tickets selling out months in advance.

Fan culture is rife with many fan zones and packed watching venues keeping the streets busy with football fandom which is just completely non-existent in the US.

But there is a reason for all of this, and it can’t be for a lack of interest after Fox Sports confirmed that the must-win USA-Uruguay contest attracted an average of 3.78 million viewers on FS1.

According to Fox Sports, that was the largest audience to see a a match that isn’t a World Cup on FS1 and the highest-ever English-language viewership total in the United States for a Copa America match.

It smashed previous Copa America games so far, but it never translated to support in the stadium which gives the hosts slight encouragement on finding a solution to fix this problem.

Ticket Prices

Fans at the event are consistently being priced out, leading directly to the poor attendance numbers and lack of atmosphere.

The lowest ticket price for the quarterfinal matches of the Euros were as low as $96 to watch world-class teams such as Spain, Germany and France whilst in the Copa America, Ticketmaster and Seat Geek in the US had fans pay minimum of $163 for quarterfinal tickets.

This is without factoring in the travel expenses going from state to state versus the easily accessible matches in Germany that can be travelled via affordable public transport.

The NFL and NBA have some of the highest average ticket prices in all of domestic sporting leagues across the world, but the demand and entertainment offered gives fans a reason to accept its value. A sport like soccer in the US would thrive from its affordability and encourage any sports fan to give it a go.

Pitch Quality

Players and coaches have come out in the media to criticise the pitch quality in the Copa America so far, claiming the inconsistencies have negatively affected team performance and the way teams prepare for matches.

Emi Martinez and Weston McKennie’s harsh words after matchday 1 forced a statement out of CONMEBOL who defended the state of the pitches, too much controversy.

It simply has to change for 2026 if it wants to remain fit to host football’s grandest event.

With the 2026 World Cup set to be played in many of the same venues across the United States, each new controversy over pitch conditions at Copa América accentuates the ongoing concerns about the quality of the venues and the difficulty of using NFL stadiums for football.

Conclusion

Affordability is the biggest issue needing to change going into the 2026 World Cup.

Ticket prices must be affordable to account for the hike in prices across the country for travel and accommodation.

With the 2026 World Cup held in three geographically large countries, fans will be forked to shell out thousands on travel if scheduled to play in differing countries and states.

However, overall, this World Cup has real potential to live up to the success of 1994 that saw the sport boom in popularity in North America and that surge in popularity is definitely required for the future of the sport in the US.

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