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50 years of PSG Féminines

Courtney Hill

While the FA spent 1971 scrambling to undo their decision to ban women’s football, across the English Channel in France, PSG Féminine were just getting started.

There are some clubs who took an unforgivable amount of time to establish their women’s side, some yet to even do so at all, but fans of PSG had to wait just a year after the founding of the club to see a women’s side introduced.

Indicative of their trailblazing history, PSG were given the green light by the French Football Federation to form their women’s side shortly after the FFF so graciously stopped ruling on what women should or shouldn’t do, lifting their own ban in line with the FA.

As a result, women’s football in France was reinstated, prompting the return of Division 1 Féminine a few years later with funds made available by the FFF.

Though, despite the top league making its return, PSG started their journey in the Ligue de Paris Île-de-France de football – the lowest level of the football pyramid. It wouldn’t be until the 79-80 season that PSG would taste the top tier of French football: the beginning of their back-and-forth promotion and relegation between the top two tiers, before solidifying their place in Division 1 after clinching the Division 2 title in the 00-01 season.

It would be another 10 years before the Parisian club would welcome their first major title, though. After knocking out footballing powerhouse Lyon in the semi-finals, PSG stormed the Challenge de France final with a thumping 5-0 victory over Montpellier.

As you’d come to expect from a club representing the city of love, there is an air of romance about the history PSG boast. Former club captain Sabrina Delannoy, who led the Parisians to their first major trophy, officially took up a directors role at the PSG foundation following her retirement. 

The club’s fourth longest serving player, Delannoy joined in 2005 and was capped 321 times – almost a hundred times more than any other player on record – before handing over the armband in 2017. The defender saw PSG through triumphs and lows, continuing to sit at the heart of the club even now. 

A year on from their domestic success, PSG qualified for the UEFA Champions League for the very first time in a dramatic last game of the season against Montpellier in which, once again, PSG came out on top.

With one major trophy under their belt and UCL qualification, the takeover of new owners in 2012 would spark an overhaul for both the men and women’s team, particularly with the introduction of big-name stars. It was from this point when PSG Féminines really started to provide a substantial challenge for rivals Lyon, but to no avail so far, as the all-important Division 1 title remains elusive to them.

But despite still waiting on an all important title win, their fans remain ever-dedicated both home and away. 121,458 of them showed up across the 18-19 season before a global pandemic shut the world down. Are they controversial? Well I think their away tie at Chelsea in 2019 might hold the answers to that one… But their unwavering support is sure to make not only a potential league double against Lyon all the more sweeter, but a prospective first league title a monumental moment in such a rich history. 

Which brings us to now: May 30th. The penultimate game of the season. Lyon v PSG. Le Classique Round 2. A definitive title decider in a season of fine margins. The Red and Blues are the only unbeaten team in the league. 22-year-old PSG centurion and Lyon slayer Marie-Antoinette Katoto handed their rivals a first league loss in four years back in November. A point between the two, both unbeaten in their last five. The Parisians won the battle when they knocked Lyon off their Champions League perch by leaving them behind in the quarter-finals, but the war is not yet won. One last chance to give their golden birthday a silverware send off.

It’s been an all too familiar tale of heartbreak for the city of love after narrowly missing out on the league title multiple times before, but 50 years after their journey started, history beckons for Les Parisiennes once again.