Manchester United question the ‘integrity of the women’s game’ after Conti Cup controversy

Fans are not happy.

Danny Jones Danny Jones - 30th January 2024

Manchester United Women have called into question the integrity of the Continental League Cup and the female game in general after they were dumped out of the tournament in favour of Aston Villa, despite the Birmingham-based side breaching the rules.

Aston Villa were docked three points on Monday for fielding an ineligible player in a Conti Cup group stage game against Sunderland on Wednesday, 24 January, with the FA stating that an independent tribunal ordered the points deducted be awarded to Sunderland.

The Villans won 7-0 on the night but the scoreline was ultimately wiped, meaning that Sunderland — who did not initially qualify for the last eight — now go through as Group A winners.

Villa have resultantly dropped to second in the group but still qualify as one of the two best-placed runners-up along with Spurs. United finished second in Group B but their record, having originally been better than the Teesiders, is now inferior to Villa’s on goal difference (16-9).

Recapping the events, the club said in the statement: “Aston Villa will progress in the competition at the expense of United, despite fielding an ineligible player. Noelle Maritz [the ineligible individual] played in the Group A win over Sunderland but was cup-tied.”


The Reds go on to say, “We are very disappointed with this outcome, and do not understand its rationale”, adding, “We feel that it undermines the integrity of the competition and of the women’s game.”

As you can see, fans are understandably just as frustrated as the club itself, with many commenting that the FA should be “ashamed of the decision”, even accusing the competition’s organisers of “profiting from rule-breaking”, adding, “Surely we must clamp down on this blatant cheating?”


Plenty also remarked that the club “should appeal it because this is something that you can win” but this decision comes after the official tribunal has already been passed.

Man United Women and their fan base have been left extremely disappointed by the Conti Cup controversy.

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This makes last week’s derby day defeat to title contenders Manchester City even more damning, as one of the upshots was that both teams were still set to progress into the next round.

Although the decision looks to be entirely out of their hands, the Conti Cup controversy only further highlights United’s recent run of results which have been less than ideal.


Marc Skinner’s side only narrowly missed out on winning a first WSL title last season and while there are many who still have faith in the manager, the calls for his dismissal are growing.

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Featured Images — Manchester United Women (via X)