National coach Ives Serneels calls for the reintroduction of the BeNe League to improve the Red Flames level: “I have been saying this behind the scenes for two years”


The 5-0 defeat at the beginning of July against the Dutch has not yet been forgotten, but on Friday a new clash against the Netherlands awaits the Red Flames, this time in the Nations League. The last victory of the Belgians against the Dutch team dates back to 2016. National coach Ives Serneels is therefore once again calling for a BeNe League to reduce the level difference.

It has been since 2016 that the Red Flames won against the Netherlands again. Since then, the level of the Orange Lionesses has increased rapidly, while the progress of the Red Flames has been a lot less. This is evident from the last two confrontations against the Dutch team: 6-1 and 5-0 to the disadvantage of Belgium.

National coach Ives Serneels is looking for solutions to reduce the level difference and looks further than the national team. “My dream solution is that there will be another BeNe League. It is not my job to arrange something like this, but I have been saying this behind the scenes for two years. Because I have good intentions for women’s football in our country, I am now saying it out loud for the first time, because our competition is progressing too slowly at the moment.”

The Red Flames were not involved in a practice match against the Dutch in July. — © BELGIUM

From 2012 to 2015, there was a cross-border competition in women’s football to more quickly improve the sporting quality of women’s football in Belgium and the Netherlands. Something that also worked, but the Netherlands eventually pulled the plug after three seasons. “This time we must be modest towards the Netherlands,” says Serneels. “Let us create a competition of roughly fourteen teams, of which, for example, only five are Belgian clubs and the rest are Dutch. Then perhaps we can turn those five Belgian clubs into fully professional clubs. I am convinced that both countries will benefit from this.”

Avoid new pandering

“We will have to convince the Dutch. I understand that last time they felt that the difference between the clubs of both countries was too big. I think we wanted too many teams too quickly, while too few Belgian teams reached the level. Now our teams are further ahead in many areas than they were then.”

Let’s wait and see whether after Serneels’ plea there will actually be an opening for a BeNe League again. In the meantime, the national coach is trying to avoid another defeat for the Red Flames against their northern neighbors in the Nations League on Friday.

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