Former USWNT head coach and World Cup winner Jill Ellis named in new FIFA role


She will lead a group tasked with developing the women’s game and improving the match calendar, amid rumours of a biennial World Cup

Former U.S. women’s national team head coach Jill Ellis has been appointed by FIFA to lead a new technical advisory group on the future of women’s football, it has been announced.

The 54-year-old won back-to-back Women’s World Cup titles as the head coach of the USWNT in 2015 and 2019 before stepping down following the latter triumph. In addition to her FIFA position, she will continue working in San Diego with the city’s NWSL expansion side, which will enter the top league in the United States at the beginning of 2022.

Ellis and the FIFA technical advisory group she’s leading will set out to “examine and explore ways to improve the current match calendar and build global development and competitiveness”.

Who will form the FIFA team?

Speaking to reporters on Sunday after being unveiled in her new role, Ellis discussed those who will be involved in the technical advisory group, which will be revealed in due course.

“The people within FIFA have been great,” she said. “I sort of said to them, ‘Listen, we’ve got to have every viewpoint here at the table’. It’ll be former players, current players, we’re going to target coaches, youth coaches, international coaches, club coaches. I think administrators, too, is very important. We will probably have a component of sport science.

“I think we want to be all encompassing. Every single element that sort of touches this game, I want to hear their viewpoint. Because I think that’s going to make us better and make us have initiatives and have recommendations that come out of this group that will be… I’ve learned this a long time ago, it’s not always about being popular, right? It’s about making decisions that are best for the game. To do that, you have to understand other people’s viewpoints. It will be a representation of the entire scope of women’s football.”

Will FIFA introduce a biennial World Cup?

With one of Ellis’ responsibilities defined by FIFA as helping to improve the match calendar, the hot topic of a World Cup every two years was something that the former U.S. coach was also asked about.

“From a personal perspective, I’ve seen the benefits of a World Cup in terms of I think spring growth in our sport,” she said. “I know in this country, the attendance from games goes up after, there’s a bounce. You’ve got viewership, we’ve created more sponsorship. I certainly recognise that is a platform that has a great reach and has been incredibly instrumental in trying to grow the game.

“I’ve heard the conversation for a few years now about the the idea of a biennial World Cup. Right now, what I would say is, I’m open to everything. Every initiative and every perspective that can, again, grow the landscape. So would that be under consideration? Certainly. But I think I want to learn more about it.

“I want to learn more about the other people that will be sitting at the table, their perspective as well. But in terms of just the growth of the game and right now the World Cup is, for the women, the most visible event, but I also know that there’s a lot of work to be done in in terms of every platform that’s out there, whether it’s club, whether it’s youth, everything from refereeing, coaching education. These are all things that I think we will focus on, but certainly that will be a component of the group and the focus that we’re going to have.”

Ellis was also asked if a FIFA Club World Cup for the women’s game could be on the cards. Speaking an event earlier this year, the European Club Association’s CEO, Charlie Marshall, said that it was something FIFA was “very, very keen on”.

“I think it’d be a great idea,” Ellis added. “The more profile, the more events, the more we can do to promote our game and experiencing perhaps that would be a fantastic step.

“But again, I’m not gonna sit here and preach my own personal opinions. I have opinions, but ultimately, this will come through a collective of other people in the game. I think it’d be a wonderful opportunity to continue to showcase our sport at the next level.”

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