Lyon Say F*ck You to the WPS, Plus Some Nude PhotosBy: Inara | March 6th, 2009
I’m going to take a quick break from the men’s team to cover the ladies. Even if you don’t care about women’s football, I advise you to stick around (as opposed to skipping to the bottom) because what’s happening has been rather interesting.
At least Lyon are on target for one European trophy…the Women’s UEFA Cup
So some of you may know that the US has it’s own pro-league for women – the WPS. Right now, they are only seven teams (but another three franchises should be in place by 2010). It’s a fully professional league catering to the most competitive female players all over the world.
What does this have to do with Lyon, you ask?
Well, we’re all familiar with how Lyon always lose their best players because of the lack of competition in Ligue 1. Turns out the same thing is happening on the women’s side. Lyon are pretty much heads and tails above the rest of their competition in Division 1 (the top flight for women). Aulas has over the years collected the best female footballers in France and has recently begun attracting them from abroad. Just last year, Lyon paid the highest ever transfer fee for a female footballer when he brought over Lotta Schelin.
But the problem is the same one the men’s team face – the players are bored with winning every thing. Aulas has his sights set on a European trophy for the women, and indeed Lyon are semifinalists in the competition, with every chance of winning it this year. Unfortunately, it’s not enough.
It’s a bitter blow to lose France’s best female player (voted twice!) in such a sneaky fashion.
In comes the WPS. Just a few weeks ago, they snapped up Camille Abily and Sonia Bompastor, two of Lyon’s best players. Worse still, they signed them after Lyon’s transfer season ended and provided no recompense to the club. Abily and Bompastor chose to leave Lyon midseason because they feared the WPS’s offer wouldn’t be there if they waited until the summer.
This had Lyon really mad, so they published a press release on their official website threatening to take “action.” The WPS said whatever, the players said whatever (albeit in a more apologetic way), and everyone thought the matter was closed. After all, Lyon had no true legal ground to stand on. The reason for that is because women’s football is still treated as an amateur sport in France, and so the neither Abily nor Bompastor had binding contracts with Lyon. The only thing that ties them to OL as footballers is their player registration.
Confused? Let me explain further. How it works for Lyon is this – the players are hired as employees of Lyon, and they spend part of their day training, the other part working. The lucky ones like Schelin are hired only in name – in reality they just collect their paychecks and show up at training. But the rest are pretty much part time players.
It’s not that Lyon are cheap (in fact, Aulas has been wanting to sign his female players to pro contracts for a long time now), but the laws in France don’t allow professional contracts for women footballers because only one or two other clubs could even afford to have pro players. So in the interest of fair play, the FFF decided to keep the league an amateur one so that one club wouldn’t have that too much of an advantage over the others.
But Aulas wasn’t going to take this sitting down. First, he’s convinced the FFF not to release the international transfer certificates of both Abily and Bompastor. Second, Lyon are planning to sue the two women for injury to the club and injury to the image of the sport. Thirdly, Lyon are also iniating proceedings against the two WPS clubs (Los Angeles Sol and Washington Freedom) for unfair poaching.
Ultimately, Lyon will probably end up losing their cases since the courts tend to side with the players, but at the very least, they are taking a stand. Most other clubs tend to bow down to the superiority of the WPS (I’m looking at you, Umea and Arsenal) without kicking up a fight.
If you’re wondering why Lyon care so much, the reason is simple – Aulas. He’s been sinking in tons of money into the ladies team (money that comes from the men’s side) despite the fact that he stands no chance of making a profit. He does it for the love of the game, which he wants to make accessible for both men and women. Say what you will about Jean-mimi, but at least in his case, his heart really is in the right place.
But two good things have come out of this (well, only one if you happen to be female). First, the FFF has agreed to allow women to sign pro-contracts. So though it’s too late for Bompastor and Abily, Lyon have the opportunity to prevent further such losses to occur. Of course, it will be a long time before Division 1 is an entirely professional entity – as things stand right now, Lyon will probably be the only club with pro players, and even then, not all of them will be pros, the rest will be semi-pros).
The second is that some people have gotten so tired of women’s football not getting attention in France that they are taking matters into their own hands. They want to prove that hot women in football isn’t just synonymous with being a WAG – female footballers can be hot too (see below for proof). They hope that photos like these (many of which contain female OL players) will convince more people to show up at games.
The things I do for you guys. I am such a good blogger.