The World Cup was packed with high-quality action, as well as shocks and feel-good stories and ended with the launch of Spanish football’s #MeToo movement.
Elsewhere, US Soccer delegated Emma Hayes with the job of reviving their fading glory as the best paid women’s football coach in the world.
As the year comes to a close, here’s a look at 10 moments that changed women’s football in 2023:
‘Ever-growing ACL club’
Months ahead of the World Cup, England captain Leah Williamson, New Zealand star Katie Rood and several other top players were left to rue their luck after being sidelined with ACL injuries.
Rood revealed the news with a post on Instagram saying, “I’m sad to say that I’ve joined the ever-growing ACL club”.
In order to understand the widespread prevalance of the injury among women footballers, Al Jazeera spoke to a wide range of experts and players, who pointed at a number of factors, including the biological differences between men and women, the difference in their kits and boots, physical stress and workload. Researchers also stressed how women’s menstrual cycles could be a factor in their vulnerability to the injury.
The “Las 15” – a group of 15 players wanted changes to the national team set-up and made themselves unavailable for selection, directing the majority of their complaints at coach Jorge Vilda. They sought improvements in working conditions, blaming them for their poor mental and physical health.
Later, the players began talks with the federation and three of them, including Ballon d’Or winner Aitana Bonmati, were included in Spain’s World Cup squad that landed the La Roja their first world title.
The player revolt continued after the World Cup in the wake of the scandal surrounding Luis Rubiales’s forced kiss on player Jenni Hermoso’s mouth. However, the team agreed to end their boycott in October after Rubiales was banned for three years by FIFA and the Spanish federation promised to make “immediate and profound changes.”
Making a mark in men’s football
When Hannah Dingley took over as the head coach of English League Two club Forest Green Rovers, albeit temporarily, she became the first woman to lead a professional men’s football team in England.
Dingley stayed at the post for two weeks but was credited for breaking the glass ceiling for young girls taking up managerial roles in men’s football.