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Hiya lads,

Welcome back to 31/7 and to the start of England's defence of the European Championship, which begins on Friday with their first qualifier against Sweden. This is what I can offer by means of distraction from this frightening prospect:
  • a glance over the Atlantic (seriously, Olympics or no Olympics, we're doing fine)
  • an update on the condition of HM Leah Williamson
  • a video of Katie McCabe getting a taste of her own shithouse medicine
  • ...and other fun bits!
I hope you enjoy it, and consider recommending me to a friend 😇 You can do this by forwarding this email to anyone in your address book. Easy peasy! & you can get more of the good stuff by clicking RIGHT HERE ⭐️⚽️


Honour and Privilege

Korbin Albert, the 20-year-old US women's national team prospect who has been slating Megan Rapinoe and sharing transphobic content on TikTok, has said she regrets her behaviour.

I’m really disappointed in myself and am deeply sorry for the hurt that I have caused to my teammates, other players, fans, friends and anyone who was offended,” she wrote on Instagram.

“I truly believe that everyone should feel safe and respected everywhere and on all playing fields. I know my actions have not lived up to that and for that I sincerely apologize. It’s an honor and a privilege to play this sport on the world stage and I promise to do better.”
Speaking to the press before the SheBelieves Cup kicks off on Saturday, senior USA players Alex Morgan and Lindsey Horan took a moment to address the Albert incident. The pair said that they prioritise the maintenance of a "safe and respectful space", that Albert's comments did not uphold team standards, and that they'll continue to use their platform to highlight causes that are important to them.

However Morgan ended the scripted piece, which doesn't refer to Korbin Albert directly, by stating that "internal discussions" which dealt with the situation will stay within the team, despite such conversations concerning a very public incident.

Commenters have noted that captain Horan, a Republican who historically opted not to take the knee, failed to make the statement alone, with vice Morgan taking the lead on the statement after a brief opener by the team captain.

Given the extent of the backlash to both the incident and the apology, with fans aggressively defending Albert's right to her own beliefs, it feels like this isn't the end of the story.

Non-Event of the Week

In a week during which every man and his dog is giving their bastard opinion on the spat between Jonas Eidevall and Emma Hayes which dominated Sunday's Continental Tyres League Cup final, I was very relieved when Sky Sports popped up on my timeline promising to settle the matter once and for all with the views of someone whose authoritative perspective would surely invalidate all others.
"It was a great final. Very competitive, so the emotion goes up," Wiegman begins. It's true! The game ran on and on, yet as the end of extra time approached, I felt I had the appetite to watch even more of the almost-indivisible teams' fight for supremacy.

In respect of that, it's crazy that people have not spent more of this week talking about how brilliant Arsenal and Chelsea are at football, preferring to debate gender politics. Speaking to the BBC, Scotland captain Rachel Corsie said that this was a good thing, as the volume of chat serves to prove that women's football is now a thing that people really like to talk about, more than the clickable-yet-negligible story buried at the bottom of the BBC Sport homepage that it once was.

However, Wiegman has bigger things on her mind. So disinterested in the fair treatment of men and women, she's plotting to take down the EU country ranked first by the Gender Equality Index — Sweden.

Answering a journalist's probe about male aggression, Wiegman protected the peace of her players, many of whom owe loyalty to Eidevall or Hayes, and refused to get swept up in the succulent discourse: "I haven't been there in that situation, so I really do not want to comment on that one day before we go to the most important game tomorrow in a couple of months for us."

Thanks Sky, for bringing this insightful contribution to my attention!

The Wrong Beth

Elsewhere in deceptive captions....

The Lionesses social media admin had caused a stir among the England fanbase before training even began, by excluding footage of Leah Williamson's arrival from a montage of players reporting for duties at St George's Park amid concerns surrounding her early removal from the League Cup final.

I'm happy to report that Williamson is both on camp and fit to play for her country for the first time since last April, when the Lionesses lost 1-0 to Australia.

Bethany England isn't, though, because being a cracking centre-forward isn't enough to get you a spot, since England (the country) can't stop churning out cracking centre-forwards these days, and the competition for that position is tighter than in other parts of the pitch.

However, grim ACL rehab kept Mead-o from kicking balls for much of the last year but, come the end of it, she's still sufficiently cracking to keep her place in Sarina's squad.

Fans were just as delighted to see her in action as Leah Williamson, but in all the excitement someone at @Lionesses HQ got their Beths mixed up, tagging an absent failure into a photo of majestic Mead-o fulfilling her wildest dreams.
Thanks England admin, the second-hand disappointment is crushing my soul!

Things I dig this week

Coming Up

  • Friday - European Championship qualifiers
    • There are 25 🤯 because there are, like, loads of countries in Europe, but only 16 teams will compete at the finals in Switzerland next summer.
    • England's defence begins at Wembley, where they'll play Sweden. There's a bit of pressure and expectation cuz of the fact that the last time they met was pretty much the best day ever and also we're all shit scared because of what happened with the Olympics qualification. Good luck girls!
  • Sunday - West Riding County First Division
    • My team Leeds Hyde Park have three games left to prove that we are one of the two best teams in the league which we only joined this season.
    • This weekend we face Hepworth United. I had a lot of fun last time we played these lot and I've not played on our hopefully-now-dried-up home pitch since November, so I'm looking forward to it loooooads
  • Tuesday - European Championship qualifiers
    • England face the Republic of Ireland at the 50,000+ seater Dublin Arena. Into 'em.

More at The Square Ball

Olivia Smart of Leeds United Women striding onto the pitch at Garforth before playing FCUM, turning to the camera and laughing

The Right Reaction

by Flora Snelson

Promotion might be out of sight for Leeds United Women, but Olivia Smart can bring spectacular goals into view.
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