Soccer Monday: FIFA Awards and France faces turmoil with Renard’s decision to step away

The IX: Soccer Monday with Annie M. Peterson, Feb. 27, 2023

The FIFA Best Awards were announced today. Here are the winners on the women’s side. Jill Ellis looked amazing in her blue velvet suit as a presenter, IMO. Come of the soccer, stay for the fashion!

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Sarina Wiegman won women’s coach of the year, Mary Earps won goalkeeper of the year, and Alexia Putellas won player of the year.

Wendie Renard, one of the best WoSo players in the world, has decided to step away from the French national team ahead of the Women’s World Cup to preserve her mental health, explaining that she cannot support the current system.

Renard seemed to indicate in a statement on social media that the issue was with the team.

“I love France more than anything, I am not perfect, far from it, but I can no longer support the current system, which is far from the requirements of the highest level.”

The statement led to speculation that Renard’s issue was with how the team is run, as well as current coach Corinne Diacre. Renard and Diacre have a history: The coach stripped the star player of her captaincy after the 2017 Euro, before restoring in in 2021.

“It is a sad day but necessary to preserve my mental health. It is with a heavy heart that I come to inform you of my decision to step back from the French team. Unfortunately, I will not be playing in this World Cup under such conditions. My face may hide the pain but my heart is suffering.”

Following Renard’s announcement, Marie-Antoinette Katoto and Kadidiatou Diani also stepped away from the team.

The French Football Federation released a statement that didn’t say much.

“The FFF has taken note of the statements of Wendie Renard, Kadidiatou Diani and Marie-Antoinette Katoto. Its Executive Committee, to meet on February 28, will take up the issue on this occasion. The FFF would like to remind you that no individuality is above the Équipe de France institution.”

So stay tuned. Given what’s happened in the Spanish women’s team, I’m guessing that the federation will simply shrug and move on. Because addressing the actual problems would be too hard.

This is so tiring, and I just have to cover it. Can’t even imagine what it’s like for some of these players.

Before the links, just one look at Alex Morgan’s gorgeous pink suit from today’s award ceremony.

Jeff Kassouf at The Equalizer is all over the NWSL schedule.

CNN’s Amanda Davies did a story on Alyssa Thompson

Sandra Herrera once again brings it for the USWNT stock watch

AP is working with some student journalists from the University of Georgia. One of them wrote about Marta!

Just Women’s Sports has a new look! Here’s a story on the friendlies against Ireland.

All for XI on what we learned from the SheBelieves

Another Jeff Kassouf story on VAR testing in the NWSL

The Athletic’s excellent feature following six players ahead of the World Cup continues with Ali Riley.

The San Diego Union Tribune with a column on the Wave.

The New York Post wrote about Mallory Swanson

Portland fans at a crossroads

WaPo’s Steven Goff on Emily Fox

Claire Watkins for Just Women’s Sports on Crystal Dunn and the USWNT defense

SI says the US and England are the World Cup faves

Yahoo’s Henry Bushnell had some concerns following the US-Japan match

Sam Kerr scores and Chelsea defeat Arsenal in FA Cup

Mallory Swanson and Vlatko Andonovski spoke to the media following the final SheBelieves matches. Here’s a little bit of the conversation:

Question: What Alex has been able to do, in setting the goalscoring record as a mother on the national team, and what she’s been able to do since she came back, what has been like for you playing with her?

Swanson: Obviously I knew her before and I looked up to her before she had Charlie but even after, I think that just seeing her as a mother and what motherhood brings, you can just see it and she’s just a completely different person. I think it’s just super inspiring that not only off the field, she’s a great mom, but on the field she’s still able to do what she has always done and score goals and basically be Alex Morgan.

Andonovski: Obviously, as a coach, coaching Alex now or working with her for three years, all I can say that she a true winner. She’s a winner being on the being on this team, great leader and she always comes come through when you need her as a player. But also the mom, as Mal said, it’s very inspiring for a lot of females that want to have kids the and come back to come back and play and that’s that’s very, very good. I mean, obviously she’s not the first one other, other players have done it before, but for her to model that and continue continuing to continue doing that is great. And last thing, we enjoy having Charlie and all the other ones in the environment, it certainly gets busy at times, but it’s fun.
Question: Question about Brazil coming out strong and the ability to counter-press.

Swanson: I just remember before the game Vlatko said, expect that it’s going to happen and expect that they’re going to come out hard. And I think that we did that and we were really like on our heels. There were definitely times that they had transition and that they were running out our goal. But I think that helped especially me, going into the game, and kind of expecting that and expecting that it’s going to be a dogfight. But that definitely helped in the first half and the physicality of it.

Andonovski: Yes, we did talk about it. We were prepared. It’s hard to be successful if you don’t expect it. But the fact that we expected it, we prepared for it, and on top of that it’s not that we just expected it, we welcomed it, embraced it, and then overcome that. So I am very happy with the approach that the players had that they didn’t back down, that’s the first thing, and the second thing, it’s almost like they got motivated by it. And I think by the end of the game it was easy to tell that we had full control of it.

Question: I’m just wondering how you would evaluate Alyssa Naeher.

Andonovski: Alyssa proved that she’s a world class goalkeeper. And it’s not easy to be a goalkeeper on our team because we don’t really give up clear cut chances and you get called upon maybe once or twice in the game and it’s mentally so tough. You have to be so concentrated and focused throughout 90 minutes for those two times to come up big and she’s very good at it. She came up big again today when we needed her. And it’s not just that she shows that she’s world class but she also inspires the backline and the whole team.

Question: How much confidence do you get after winning this title heading into the World Cup.

Swanson: this tournament is always good to play. I think that there’s really good teams, some of the top teams in the world. So it’s always a good test for us and it’s a good experience to have and especially before a World Cup I think that having these games and playing against different teams and different styles. It’s really beneficial.

Andonovski: It is a very good tournament. I don’t think we’re going to talk a lot about the title. We’re actually going to talk a lot about the play and the details, and we’re going to use the use these games to prepare for the World Cup. So that’s what is good about this, it’s not necessarily the title — obviously we enjoy winning, we enjoy winning the title — but it’s the outcome of these game is what is more important for us. The whole time throughout the tournament and while we were in camp, we’re talking about it’s not just about this tournament, it’s about preparation for the World Cup. The fact that we were able to do well against such a great opponents, all three of them, Canada, Japan and Brazil, it’s very motivating for us going forward because we believe that we still have a few things to fix and get better from it. But just to answer directly, we enjoyed the title. And I want to say, Heifetz you can help me with this, the world is that Emily Sonnett has six SheBelieves titles so well done Emily.

Swanson: I thought Alyssa was too, someone said Alyssa.

Andonovski: Alyssa and Emily Sonnett, well done.

Question: How would you evaluate Rose’s performance?

Andonovski: I want to say she did what we expected to do, what I expected her to do. In the moments when she had when she had possession of the ball, or when we had possession of the ball, to a certain extent I thought she could be just a little bit more precise with the final ball and she got frustrated sometimes, but then at the end, the goal that was scored, obviously the second goal that Mal scored, it came from from Rose’s pass. So I think she’s got a few more of those again in her. But her positioning, getting the ball in between the lines, being able to turn and run in the backline, made us dangerous.

Mondays: Soccer
By: Annie Peterson, @AnnieMPeterson, AP Women’s Soccer
Tuesdays: Tennis
By: Joey Dillon, @JoeyDillon, Freelance Tennis Writer
Wednesdays: Basketball
By: Howard Megdal, @HowardMegdal, The Next
Thursdays: Golf
By: Addie Parker, @addie_parker, The IX
Fridays: Hockey
By: @TheIceGarden, The Ice Garden
Saturdays: Gymnastics
By: Lela Moore, @runlelarun, Freelance Writer

Written by Annie Peterson