New format for the UEFA Women's Champions League
A group stage, more matches and better marketing: UEFA has announced a fundamental reform of the Women’s Champions League. From the 2021/22 season onwards, the last 16 teams will play in a group stage. In four groups of four, the teams will play each other home and away, with the top two progressing to the quarter-finals. Since 2009, the main competition has consisted entirely of knockout rounds.
“A restructuring of the competition was urgently needed in light of the development of women’s football in recent years,” said Bianca Rech, sporting director of FC Bayern Women. “The group stage and the six games within it will offer the participating clubs great opportunities and potential. Three possible starting spots for Germany will hopefully give the Bundesliga the impetus it needs and motivate the individual clubs to invest more in women’s football,” continued Rech.
For the two earlier rounds, UEFA has introduced a Champions path and a League path, mirroring the men’s competition. The Champions path is only open to national champions, while the League path is designed for runners-up and third-placed teams from the respective associations.
“The world's best women's club competition will get both the platform and visibility it deserves,” declared UEFA president Aleksander Čeferin, who described the decision as a “game-changer”. The aim of the reforms is to improve the balance of the competition and the visibility of women’s club football throw its elite competition.