The most beautiful football tournament of the year has been played. The Wembley final was the final highlight of three weeks of incredibly dynamic football. From our perspective, the tournament grew day by day with the strong performances of the German team.
No question, the women won, football won. Excitement and class also work without multi-millionaires on the pitch, without beating fans, players’ wives with make-up tips and inhuman business in the background: We will then be served all of this as a side dish in November with the men and their World Cup. So everything that we didn’t miss now.
The England Championship was a big step towards the emancipation of women’s football, which will nevertheless continue to depend on men’s football. And there it is – at least in Germany – still very far down. A look at FC Bayern’s official Twitter account is enough. The women are listed at the end. After portals like FC Bayern Brazil, accounts for fans and young people. Sure, the women of FC Bayern will be allowed to play in the big arena in Munich at the start of the Bundesliga season in September.
That’s very good and still has something patronizing about it, like there was around the tournament in England when men came into play. Be it a TV greeting from Jürgen Klopp (“I saw two out of three games, great girls”), a “Bild” final tip from Franz Beckenbauer (“Germany wins after penalties”) or an agency portrait of the national coach’s husband Martina Voss-Tecklenburg (“she doesn’t even notice when I’m swimming next to her. She’s so focused”) – the men probably wanted or should ennoble “women’s football”.
In fact, that is not necessary at all. Money yes, but well-intentioned words are not needed from the men in the football business. It is probably the only chance to make the Bundesliga bigger if the powerful clubs send their teams to the women’s race with their infrastructure, as is happening more and more.
In Spain and England they are doing it successfully. This helps in the development of the athletic field. Other fans can then come to the stadium, the intersection with men’s football doesn’t have to be that big with the audience. Looking at the stands at the tournament in England, it was clear that a different, more female crowd was partying there. The testosterone-controlled male representatives with bare chests could not be made out there.
There are certainly still very few people around the women’s Bundesliga who were born in a jersey and who, for better or for worse, make their salvation dependent on whether a team of young men for MSV Duisburg wins at the weekend or not.
It can be an opportunity for women’s football to reposition itself and need to reposition itself now that the big television window is about to close again after the England tournament. To make matters worse, the upcoming World Cup will take place in New Zealand and Australia in July and August 2023, which will mean inconvenient airtime and possibly less interest.
But it shouldn’t be more than an intermediate low – if at all. So let’s already look forward to the next great football tournament. Without big-headed functionary gibberish and reports about workers who died during the construction of the stadiums for a tournament.
Despite all the justified criticism about the large salary range, female soccer players are far ahead of men in professional sport: In Germany, the female divisions have it much, much harder in the popular sports after soccer. From basketball to ice hockey to handball – the players there have hardly any chance of earning any money at all. And that, although at least in basketball or ice hockey, the top male stars can earn huge sums of money.
Perhaps the women’s European Championship stage victory will also help to raise awareness of more equality in professional sport as a whole.