For decades you have embodied the lobby of women’s football in this country. How much did you celebrate in view of the high level of sporting quality and attention paid to the European Championships in England?
My joy about the development at this European Championship increased from game to game. And the unfortunate final defeat that I witnessed at Wembley didn’t change that. The tournament was a real quantum leap and the start of a new era of perception for professional women’s football.
In what way?
This is underlined not only by the number of spectators in the stadiums and the outstanding ratings on TV, but also by the many positive comments from all areas of society. And if the Queen takes the success of her European champions as an opportunity to ennoble the achievements of the teams and names them as an example of inspiration for girls and women of future generations, then the social status of women’s football has reached a new dimension. You can really build on that.
That was exactly what failed after the 2011 home World Cup, when attention to women’s football could not be sustained. What needs to be done now?
There are many more approaches to this today than there were in 2011, when the summer fairy tale of the time could not be fully told due to the early exit and professional women’s football was not yet at the level it is today. With the exciting European Championships in England, there was now significantly more attention from an even broader public. Our players were able to nestle in the hearts of many new fans with their convincing performances on and their likeable appearances off the pitch. The task now is to develop this perception with the right measures.
What are you thinking of primarily?
Of standards and areas that are normal in men’s football. For example, international matches have to be broadcast in the early evening or at prime time. We want to present ourselves on the front stage and no longer only in the afternoon program. Exactly in this sense, the DFB and the ARD reacted immediately for the first home game after the European Championship against France at the beginning of October. Our women play at prime time at 8.30 p.m. in Dresden – with the best chance of presenting themselves in front of full ranks again in Germany. In addition, every powerful post on social and linear media continues to move us forward.
So which mistakes of the past have you become smarter about?
The most important topics that need to be optimized should not be put off forever. But to act immediately and sustainably with clear, self-confident ideas. This applies to the work in the associations, in the Bundesliga clubs and also in the amateur clubs.
In recent years, the number of girls and women playing soccer has declined significantly…
…in order to win them back and to be able to serve the interests of tomorrow’s stars, cities, clubs and schools need the necessary infrastructure. Soccer fields, training times and, above all, a sufficient number of well-trained coaches. The growing presence of our players on social media channels can be a key to getting girls excited about football and enticing them to the Bundesliga stadiums with their families.
You are not only sports director of the Eintracht women, but also chairman of the DFB committee for women’s national leagues. What exactly are the next steps to transport the tailwind in the everyday life of the league, which is often gray in many locations?
We now have the radiance of the European Championship and the wave of sympathy for our players behind us. At the last DFB Bundestag we pushed the professionalization of the first and second Bundesliga – I see very good chances that we will make faster progress now. Here, along with the newly formed DFB leadership, the clubs in particular are in demand. In my opinion, the three most important points are: Further development of structures and training conditions; better marketing with significantly higher revenues for growing economic stability; higher awareness and visibility of our games.
Our Eintracht team has gained a lot of attractiveness thanks to the many EM participants. I believe that on the one hand we will gain new fans and on the other hand new sponsors and partners. The greatest progress is of course that all Bundesliga games have been broadcast live since last season and that a Monday evening game will also be offered with the next TV contract from the 2023/24 season. Highlight games in the big stadiums are particularly effective and add value.
What chance does the Bundesliga opening game of the SBU hold against last year’s second Bayern in the big arena?
In terms of the perception and visibility of women’s football, the opportunities could hardly be greater. It’s a top game under floodlights, where many of the defining faces of the European Championship can be seen in action. I’m hoping for an initial spark in terms of spectator interest in the league, which we’ve seen recently in England, but also in Spain and France. A signal will go out from the backdrop we reach. And I’m sure that clubs like Bayern, Wolfsburg or Hoffenheim and, as already announced, Bremen too will go to the big stadiums for special Bundesliga games.
The league viewership record of 12,500 is set to fall, right?
That is exactly what we want to achieve. And if this doesn’t last as long as the previous record from 2014, then we’re on the right track.