They gave them a reception that is otherwise only available for tournament winners. Thousands of people flocked to the town hall balcony on Frankfurt's Römer on Monday afternoon and celebrated the German women's national soccer team after they returned from London.
The night before, the team had lost 2-1 (1-1, 0-0) after extra time to the tournament hosts in the final of the European Championships at Wembley Stadium in front of 87,192 spectators (a record crowd for the European Championship). And yet it felt like there were no losers who were cheered on by the people of Frankfurt. But winners. Final lost, fans won.
Even without a triumph, this tournament was extremely important for women's football in Germany. An average of 17.897 million people watched the final on ARD. Never before had so many people in Germany watched a women's soccer game on television. Chancellor Olaf Scholz told national coach Martina Voss-Tecklenburg's team in the dressing room at Wembley how proud they were of this team at home.
With her winning goal in the 110th minute of the game, Chloe Maggie Kelly provided the “Lionesses” with their first international title. Lena Magull (79th) had previously equalized the Englishman's lead for the first time through Ella Toone (62nd). "Nevertheless, we're happy and proud that we've reached so many people," said Svenja Huth from Wolfsburg.
Those responsible quarreled with the video assistants because of the scene when the score was 0-0, when a possible handball by England captain Leah Williamson was checked in the penalty area. There was no penalty.
Despite the bitter evening of the final, this European Championship offers a huge opportunity for German women's football. Which the German Football Association (DFB) wants to use with the clubs. The momentum is there. It must now be continued in a sustainable manner.
The EM showed what power and fascination this sport can have. After this soccer summer there is an opportunity to win even more girls over to him and to promote women's soccer in this country. Lena Oberdorf - honored as the best young player of the tournament -, Giulia Gwinn, Alexandra Popp, Merle Frohms and all the others are role models. They embody cohesion, the will to win and fair play. And have inspired many young people. Many girls should now register in clubs.
"But the trick will be to inspire these new players in the long term, to bind them - and also to bring the 2027 World Cup to us," said Silke Raml, Vice President of the Bavarian Football Association (BFV). and a member of the commission for women's football at the European football association Uefa. “But it also needs a rethinking in our clubs: In the long run, we will simply no longer be able to afford to more or less leave half of our population outside. We have to see femininity as an opportunity that will secure the future of grassroots sports clubs.”
The BFV will start a girls' soccer campaign in autumn. At the Association Day in June, the delegates spoke out in favor of allowing women, upon application, to play league games with men. 22 days after the decision, there was the Germany premiere: At FC OVI-Teunz, two players played in the B-class team. In Futsal in Regensburg, a woman played for the men in a competitive game. "We have to continue to rethink," said Raml.
The average attendance at the German women's Bundesliga clubs in Germany is less than 2,000 per game, and some games are only attended by a few hundred spectators. 85,000 people came to FC Barcelona. Compared to male professionals, the pay for many German players is low, and in the Bundesliga most of them have a second job. The income of the association and the clubs is still significantly lower for women than for men.
National player Lina Magull advocates a minimum wage for players in the Bundesliga: "We footballers should earn so well from the second division that nobody has to work part-time anymore. We're talking about a minimum salary of 2,000 or 3,000 euros a month. This is how you can sustainably advance the development of women’s football.”
The DFB recently put out to tender the broadcasting rights of the women's Bundesliga for the period 2023/24 to 2026/27. Sky has expressed interest, those responsible hope for high income. "We have to use the hype experienced in England and the new popularity of women's football to start a new era," said Siggi Dietrich, chairman of the DFB Women's Bundesliga Committee, in "Kicker". It is a good signal to play the opening game of the women's Bundesliga between Eintracht Frankfurt and FC Bayern on September 16 in the large stadium in Frankfurt. "But that can only be the beginning," says Dietrich. It is elementary that all games are broadcast live.
Steffi Jones calls on the DFB to make plans for the future of women's football. "It's not something you should plan out of cold pants during a tournament," said the former international and coach of the "FAZ". “The management level is now basking in the success of the team. I wish that the DFB would have made plans for the time after the tournament even before the tournament.” Jones was responsible for the association for years, was director, responsible for women's football and girls' football, among other things. "The sporting success is here now - then please show us what the next steps are," said Jones. The association structures are much too sluggish. "On the one hand, there is talk of diversity, but take a look at the management of DFB GmbH, which is also responsible for women's football: five positions, all men." For women, "there is not really a perspective".
Hans-Joachim Watzke hopes that the European Championship will send a signal to the Bundesliga. "We now have to wait and see whether we can get beyond eventing in the medium term," said the DFL supervisory board chairman to the "kicker" with reference to the previous number of visitors in everyday league life.
The World Cup will take place in Australia and New Zealand in the summer of 2023. The next chance for a German triumph. And a winner's reception at the Römer, which includes a trophy.