Women's Champions League set to switch to group format

Launched in 2001 as the UEFA Women's Cup, the Women's Champions League currently uses a group format only in its qualifying rounds.

Arsenal's Vivianne Miedema is challenged by SK Slavia Praha's Tereza Kozarova during a UEFA Women's Champions League Round of 16 match at Meadow Park on October 31 in Borehamwood, England.

Arsenal's Vivianne Miedema is challenged by SK Slavia Praha's Tereza Kozarova during a UEFA Women's Champions League Round of 16 match at Meadow Park on October 31 in Borehamwood, England.   -  Getty Images

The Women's Champions League will be reorganised as early as 2021-2022 with a format that more closely resembles the successful men's competition, UEFA announced on Wednesday.

Launched in 2001 as the UEFA Women's Cup, the Women's Champions League currently uses a group format only in its qualifying rounds with 10 pools of four in the preliminary stage.

It switches to a two-leg knockout format, from the round of 32 but the difference in strength between the clubs often creates unbalanced contests.

In this year's competition, six of the eight round of 16 ties finished with one team winning by an aggregate margin of at least six goals.

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The European Confederation's executive committee, on Wednesday afternoon, approved the principle of a 16-team group stage with four pools of four teams.

The new format will create attractive matchups between the stronger teams earlier in the competition.

It is a system similar to that used in men's competition since the European Cup became the Champions League in a lucrative reform in 1992.

“We expect the Women's Champions League to take off more than it has today,” Giorgio Marchetti, the UEFA Deputy General Secretary, told a press conference.

“The game is growing. There is more interest from the market, the media. The time is probably right to go, to try and do for women what many years ago was done for men. We expect a better competition.”

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