Jamaica’s Reggae Girlz now know their opponents in the 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup in Australia and New Zealand after the draw on Saturday in New Zealand.

The Girlz have been drawn in Group F alongside powerhouses Brazil, France and either Taiwan, Panama, Paraguay or Papua New Guinea.

Brazil has been to nine World Cups with their best result being runners-up in 2007 while the French have been to five, most notably finishing fourth in 2011.

Jamaica will open their campaign against France on July 25 in Sydney before facing Chinese Taipei/Panama/Paraguay/Papua New Guinea on July 29 in Perth then battling Brazil on August 2 in Melbourne.

“Excitement,” was Reggae Girlz head coach Lorne Donaldson’s reaction when asked about the draw.

“It was a long day of anticipating. The draw itself was a draw with some exciting teams that play good football so we have to come out and try to match them.”

Jamaica was also drawn against Brazil in the 2019 World Cup, suffering a 0-3 loss in Grenoble.

“This is a totally different Brazil side. It’s a younger team with a different coach. Obviously, we have our work cut out against a fast, skillful Brazilian team so we have to be ready.”

England will face Denmark, China and an as-yet undecided qualifier at next year's Australia/New Zealand 2023 Women's World Cup, as holders the United States face fellow 2019 finalists the Netherlands.

The Lionesses, heading into their first major tournament since claiming Euro 2022 glory on home turf, will compete in Group D following Saturday's draw in Auckland.

Sarina Wiegman's side will meet fellow UEFA outfit Denmark alongside Asian Cup holders China, plus one of Chile, Senegal or Haiti, who are due to complete their qualification battle in February next year.

All eyes will be on Group E however, where the USWNT will meet Wiegman's old team once more, four years on from defeating them in the final at France 2019.

They are joined by Vietnam, as well as another unknown qualifier who will be confirmed at the start of next year.

Elsewhere, the Republic of Ireland face hosts Australia in Group B, along with Canada and Nigeria, while co-hosts New Zealand take on Norway, Switzerland and the Philippines in Group A.

Japan, finalists in 2015, have been pitted against Spain, Zambia and Costa Rica in Group C, while France, Jamaica and Brazil - alongside the third and final remaining qualifier - make up an intriguing Group F.

Sweden, downed by England in the Euro 2020 semi-finals earlier this year, headline Group G alongside South Africa, Italy and Argentina. Germany are in Group H with Morocco, Colombia and South Korea.

The tournament begins on July 20 next year, before reaching its climax with the final at Sydney's Stadium Australia four weeks later on August 20.

The technical staff of Jamaica’s Senior Women’s football team have signed one-year contracts with the Jamaica Football Federation.

Former United States goalkeeper Hope Solo has opened up on her treatment for alcohol abuse after being convicted of driving while impaired.

Solo was arrested in North Carolina on March 31 and initially charged with impaired driving, resisting arrest and misdemeanour child abuse, with her two children present in the vehicle at the time of the offence.

The latter two charges were voluntarily dismissed, her attorney Chris Clifton told the Winston-Salem Journal on Tuesday, as Solo received a suspended 24-month sentence and surrendered her driving licence.

The former goalkeeper, who won 202 caps for her country between 2000 and 2016, revealed she was to enter an in-patient alcohol treatment program in April, having requested her imminent induction into the National Soccer Hall of Fame be postponed until 2023.

Solo has now taken to social media to thank those who aided her throughout her treatment, as she labelled the incident leading to the arrest "the worst mistake of my life".

"It's been a long road, but I'm slowly coming back from taking time off," she wrote on Twitter. 

"I made a huge mistake, easily the worst mistake of my life. I underestimated what a destructive part of my life alcohol had become.

"The upside of making a mistake this big is that hard lessons are learned quickly. Learning these lessons has been difficult, and at times, very painful.

"I would like to thank my attorneys, Rich Nichols, Jim Trusty and Chris Clifton, for understanding that putting my mental and emotional well-being first is most important to me and my family. I look forward to opening up and sharing more with everyone in the coming weeks.

"I also want to thank all the wonderful women I met during my time at the Hope Valley treatment facility.

"I continue to be a student of the greatest school called life and I will continue to learn and grow from these experiences. I will continue to gain empathy, knowledge, and stories to share. 

"I consider this a gift to pass it on to others because pain shared is pain lessened."

Jamaica punched their ticket to the 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup in Australia/New Zealand in commanding fashion with a 4-0 win over Haiti in their final match of Group A of the 2022 CONCACAF W Championship on Monday night at the Estadio BBVA in Monterrey.

The result means Jamaica have qualified for a second straight Women’s World Cup, making it the second time in history that a Caribbean team have qualified for a Women’s World Cup.

Haiti have finished in third place and will advance to next February’s 10-team 2023 Women’s World Cup Playoff in New Zealand.

The blistering pace at the start made for a back-and-forth affair and Haiti’s Melchie Dumornay almost scored the opener with a dazzling solo run from her own half that ended with her shot ringing off the post.

An opening goal was bound to come and Jamaica were the ones to break the deadlock as some nice work from Khadija Shaw set up Trudi Carter, whose right-footed shot beat Haiti GK Nahomie Ambroise to make it 1-0 to the Reggae Girlz in the 26th minute.

Haiti went right to work to try to find an equalizer and Roselord Borgella had it all there to get it in the 52' off a Jamaica turnover, but instead swung her shot wide of the post.

Haiti continued to push forward in search of a goal, but it left space behind for the Jamaican attack and Shaw was happy to take advantage of it by firing in a right-footed shot to double the Jamaica lead to 2-0 in the 58'.

Nevertheless, Haiti kept pushing and almost pulled a goal back in the 63’ through a blazing effort from Dumornay in the 63’, only to see Jamaica GK Rebecca Spencer parry the ball onto the post and eventually out of play.

However, the night belonged to Shaw and Jamaica and after a Haiti handball in the area, the Manchester City striker stepped up and fired in her third goal of the CWC from the penalty spot for a 3-0 lead in the 70'.

They then capped off their magical night in the 79' with a well-placed header from Drew Spence off a free-kick to complete the winning 4-0 scoreline, earning their first-ever CWC win against Haiti in three attempts.

Superstar gymnast Simone Biles received the Presidential Medal of Freedom from Joe Biden on Thursday, becoming the youngest living person to be honoured.

Biles is the most decorated US gymnast in history, with 32 Olympic and world championship medals, and has also been an advocate for mental health and sexual assault survivors.

President Biden recognised her achievements both inside and outside the gym, as he awarded the 25-year-old yet another medal.

"When we see her compete, we see unmatched power and determination, grace and daring," Biden said.

"A trailblazer and a role model, when she stands on the podium, we see what she is: absolute courage to turn personal pain into a greater purpose, to stand up and speak for those who cannot speak for themselves.

"Today, she adds to her medal count of 32 – I don't know if you're going to find room."

In the same ceremony, Megan Rapinoe was the first footballer to be a recipient of this highest civilian award in the United States.

Rapinoe has won two Women's World Cups and an Olympic gold medal and has also been a prominent figure due to her activism.

The OL Reign captain has battled throughout her career for gender pay equality, racial justice and LGBTQ+ rights.

"Beyond the World Cup titles and the Olympic medals, Megan is a champion for [an] essential American truth that everyone – everyone – is entitled to be treated with dignity and respect," Biden said.

While Rapinoe was at the White House, her United States team-mates clinched qualification for the 2023 World Cup with a 5-0 win over Jamaica.

United States Soccer has announced that collective bargaining agreements have been put in place to ensure the men's and women's national teams will receive equal pay.

This means that World Cup prize money received by FIFA will be combined and split evenly between the two teams.

The men's team will compete in the World Cup in Qatar later this year, having been drawn in the same group as England, Iran and the winner of the final European playoff.

The women's team won the 2019 World Cup in France and will be among the favourites for the 2023 event in Australia and New Zealand.

An announcement by U.S. Soccer on Wednesday stated: "The United States Soccer Federation (USSF), the United States Women's National Team Players Association (USWNTPA) and the United States National Soccer Team Players Association (USNSTPA) have agreed to terms of historic, first-of-their-kind collective bargaining agreements (CBAs) that achieve equal pay and set the global standard moving forward in international soccer.

"The two CBAs, which run through 2028, achieve equal pay through identical economic terms. These economic terms include identical compensation for all competitions, including the FIFA World Cup, and the introduction of the same commercial revenue sharing mechanism for both teams.

"The agreements will ensure that U.S. Soccer’s Senior National Team players remain among the highest paid in the world.

"Under these agreements, U.S. Soccer becomes the first Federation in the world to equalise FIFA World Cup prize money awarded to the U.S. Women's National Team (USWNT) and the U.S. Men's National Team (USMNT) for participation in their respective World Cups.

"Equally as important, the new CBAs improve non-economic terms, including player health and safety, data privacy and the need to balance responsibilities to both club and country."

The total purse for the 2019 women's World Cup was $30million, with the United States receiving $4m as winners.

France took home $38m for winning the men's World Cup in 2018 in Russia from an overall purse of $400m.

The President of U.S. Soccer, Cindy Parlow Cone, called it a "historic moment" and said the agreement has "changed the game forever in the United States"

"I am grateful for the commitment and collaboration of both the men’s and women's national teams and I am incredibly proud of the hard work that has led to this moment. Everyone who cares about our sport should share in this pride as we look forward to working together to grow soccer for generations to come," Cone added.

Ada Hegerberg revelled in making an "incredibly beautiful" return to Norway duty by scoring a hat-trick in a 5-1 win over Kosovo. 

Inaugural Women's Ballon d'Or winner Hegerberg opted against playing for her country in 2017 due to a perceived lack of respect for female players from the Norwegian Football Federation (NFF). 

The 26-year-old reversed her decision following the appointment of a new NFF president, returning with the European Championship just three months away. 

And she made an emphatic comeback, nodding in Caroline Graham Hansen's cross for the first of two goals in the space of two first-half minutes. 

Hegerberg completed her hat-trick on the hour mark to help keep Norway three points clear of Belgium in World Cup qualifying Group F. Frida Maanum and Ereleta Memeti were also on target in Sandefjord.

"It is a pleasure to play for the national team again. It is an incredibly beautiful thing," Hegerberg said, who moved onto 41 international goals. 

"It's a new chapter. It was very good to play at home again. It's been a great day." 

Asked how long she envisaged representing Norway for and whether she could surpass Isabell Herlovsen as the nation's all-time leading scorer with 67 goals, she replied: "One match at a time! But I'm 26 years old. I expect to be in the game for a while longer. 

"For as long as possible. As long as I can remain a leading player in the game and have the motivation to keep going, I will continue." 

Ada Hegerberg has ended a five-year exodus from the Norway national team after the Lyon striker was named in Martin Sjogren's squad for next month's World Cup qualifiers.

The 26-year-old has not played for her country since 2017, having made herself unavailable since then in a dispute over the progression of the women's game back home.

During that period, Hegerberg has become the Women's Champions League all-time top scorer and won the inaugural women's Ballon d'Or in December 2018.

She controversially sat out Norway's last World Cup campaign, at France 2019, as the Grasshoppers were knocked out by England in the quarter-finals.

Since then, Hegerberg has also endured the best part of two years out of action with a ruptured anterior cruciate ligament.

But with Norway preparing for the rearranged Euro 2021 tournament in England and next year's World Cup in Australia and New Zealand, the striker has made herself available once more.

"Go Norway," the forward tweeted, complete with the Norwegian flag, on Thursday, shortly after the Norges Fotballforbund (NFF) had confirmed the squad.

Norway sit top of their UEFA qualifying group, and will play Kosovo and Poland next month.

The day Jamaica created history and qualified for the 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup, the axis of the women’s game in CONCACAF shifted in a seismic way.

Jamaica’s Reggae Girlz’s qualification to France 2019 signified in part an unprecedented growth and development leap for the Caribbean.

Importantly, too, the fairytale success story was of monumental historical proportion, as the island became the first from the region to be catapulted into the stratosphere of the global game and its greatest stage, the World Cup.

On October 17, 2018, at the Concacaf Women’s Championship inside Toyota Stadium in Frisco, Texas, Jamaica achieved the unthinkable.

In the third-place match, the Girlz defeated Panama in an epic match, which ended 2-2 after regulation and extra time. And the two, with the scent of the 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup in France in scope, had to be separated by the dreaded penalties. As it turned out, Jamaica triumphed 4-2, and the rest, as they say, is history.

On that magical journey, was assistant coach Andrew Price and he recalled the momentous occasion as if it happened yesterday.

“The emotions were like a roller-coaster on the bench in that final qualifying game [against Panama]. We took the lead on two occasions and lost it twice. We deliberately saved our changes late in the game to ensure that we would have been prepared for extra time.

“But the masterstroke was when we decided to replace goalkeeper Sydney Schneider with Nicole McClure. We had practised penalties the day before and Nicole was amazing in goal, so when we saw the clock winding down, it was important that we put her on the pitch before time expired,” said Price.

As part of a technical team led by Head Coach Hue Menzies, the assistant coach revelled in the tactical astuteness of the coaches, for he thought the off-the-field decisions had a positive impact on the outcome of the match.

“In practising the penalty kicks, we made the players make the long walk from half-line to the penalty box to take each kick, so for that match day the players would be prepared for the scenario, and everything worked to perfection. As you know, Nicole saved two penalties and we scored all our penalties,” Price re-collected.       

The experienced tactician said there was self-belief in the camp that the World Cup dream was reachable as the team went through the layers of qualification.

“The confidence and self-belief came after the first round of the Caribbean World Cup Qualifying held in Haiti. It was a difficult tournament in terms of the conditions and environment that the young ladies had to face.

“The real test was the final game of the round, between ourselves and the host Haiti, as we battled for the one qualifying spot. We went into the game on similar points, but we had a superior goal difference of two goals. All we needed was to draw to advance. In front of a partisan and sometimes hostile crowd of 15,000 Haitian supporters, we trailed 2-0 in the first half.

“But we showed our real strength by pulling a goal back before halftime. During the halftime talk, we told the Girlz to relax and play their normal game. They went out, and in a stirring performance, silenced the crowd with the equalizing goal. For the remainder of the match, we fought tooth and nail to ensure we advanced to the next round,” Price reminisced.

As the qualifying journey took its twists and turns, the Girlz saw themselves more than just competitors but real contenders for a spot at France 2019.

“With each passing round of the qualification, the confidence of the Girlz grew. They believed they were on a mission to accomplish something great. They grew into a closely-knit family -- all for one and one for all. They were willing to be patient and trust the process, and they did so one game at a time. They took obstacles as inspiration to work that much harder,” said Price.

He said when the final whistle went in the decisive match against Panama, there was a feeling of euphoria that swept through the team and all the support staff.

“We were just overcome with joy. The immediate reaction was to scream, ‘We did it’. We were so elated. We jumped and hugged each other. Then our next reaction was to get on the pitch and celebrate with the Girlz. The moment was surreal. It was as if time stopped for the moment,” Price said.

Jamaica’s success, said Price, was a signature moment for the entire Caribbean, a rallying cry that anything is possible if one dares to dream.

“Most definitely it was a triumph for the entire Caribbean. No different from when Haiti qualified for their first Men's World Cup in 1974. It inspired nations like Jamaica and Trinidad & Tobago that it could be done. Similarly, our historic qualification will inspire other Caribbean countries. The gap is closing between the world powers in football and the others, as a global village has made the catching up achievable,” he reasoned.

“Previously in Concacaf, the automatic teams would be the USA, Canada and Mexico. But now you have Costa Rica, Jamaica, Panama, Haiti, Trinidad and others knocking at the door. This comes as a result of FIFA and Concacaf assisting significantly in the development of the Women's game,” Price added.

In France, the Girlz lost all their Group C matches, but even in defeat against significantly stronger opponents, the learning experience was priceless.

“From the draw, we were quite aware we were in the ‘Group of Death’, with top-ranked teams such as Brazil, Australia and Italy. It was always going to be difficult against these teams. But we made up our minds that we were going to be competitive and give a good account of ourselves. The experience we gained was all a part of the learning curve. It is the experience you can only get by playing against the best,” Price noted.

Spain captain Sergio Busquets has expressed his concerns at FIFA's proposals to hold the men's and women's World Cups every two years. 

The men's World Cup has taken place every four years since the inaugural edition in 1930, aside from in 1942 or 1946 due to the Second World War, while the women's World Cup has followed suit since it was first staged in 1991. 

Former Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger has been campaigning for the change in his role as the governing body's chief of global football development. 

Meanwhile, the FIFA congress in May saw a vote go heavily in favour of carrying out a feasibility study into the project. 

On Friday, UEFA president Aleksander Ceferin said the European governing body had "serious reservations and grave concerns" surrounding the concept. 

Busquets has supported those views, expressing his concern for the potential impact the change would have on players. 

"We have little voice. Less and less is looked at by the player," the Barcelona midfielder said. 

"There will come a time when the player is going to explode. I see it as very difficult.  

"You have to sit down and value it. You have to see it from many points of view, not just wanting more." 

Reggae Girlz goalkeeper Nicole McClure has signed on to become an assistant coach at US Ivy League’s Princeton University. There she will work along with head coach Sean Driscoll and Mike Poller.

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