As runners-up in Europe, the German national soccer players are preparing for the World Cup with great ambitions. In addition to sports, there are also numerous topics off the pitch. About the World Cup bonuses - and an unwelcome potential sponsor.
As captain of the national soccer team, Alexandra Popp does not strive for the much higher sums of her male colleagues in negotiations for World Cup bonuses. "We're not talking about equal pay here, we're still a long way from that. So that won't be an issue for sure," said the 31-year-old during a media round at the start of the training camp in Marbella.
Popp did not want to give specific figures for the goal, but she was "in good spirits that we are going into open negotiations to get the best possible result for both parties," assured the 124-time national player, who finished second with the DFB team last year's European Championship is aiming for the title at this year's World Championships in Australia and New Zealand (July 20th to August 20th).
The tournament bonuses last year were extremely far apart: Manuel Neuer and Co. would have received 400,000 euros each from the DFB for the World Cup title in Qatar, for a women’s European Championship triumph in England in 2022 the association would have paid 60,000 euros per player. The men would also have received 400,000 euros for an EM title in 2021. The German men failed early on in both tournaments, while the DFB women reached the final in England. And in 2022 they also clearly won the TV duel against the men: 17.952 million people saw the European Championship final on July 31 with the team of national coach Martina Voss-Tecklenburg. No other sports program on German television had such a large audience. Three of the footballers' games ended up in the top ten of the 2022 TV rankings.
Another topic of discussion in the run-up to the World Cup, on the other hand, annoys Popp very much: the possible sponsorship of the World Cup by the Saudi Arabian tourism authority. You are "rather negative about it," said the VfL Wolfsburg striker. According to a report by the portal "The Athletic", "Visit Saudi" should become a partner of the World Cup tournament from July 20th to August 20th. "I think the others from other nations have said a lot that this is not the best sponsor for a women's world championship - for what we women also stand for," said Popp. "I'm curious to see what will come out of it in the end. Unfortunately, we can't do more than add a little bit of our two cents, which we don't exactly approve of."
The host football associations of Australia and New Zealand had spoken out against such a sponsor and sent a letter of protest to the world football governing body. FIFA had not consulted on this. US striker Alex Morgan described the possible sponsorship of the World Cup by Saudi Arabia as "bizarre".
Saudi Arabia is generally criticized internationally for human rights violations. The kingdom wants to host the men's World Cup in 2030 and is therefore pushing ahead with its sports policy efforts. The human rights organization Amnesty International also sharply criticized the recent award of the 2023 Club World Cup to Saudi Arabia on Tuesday. The world association was asked to comment.
The runners-up European champions are training in Andalusia until Sunday, and the first international match against Sweden in Duisburg is on Tuesday (6.15 p.m. / ARD and in the ntv.de live ticker). It's now about "working on small adjustment screws, getting even better, so that we are excellently prepared for the World Cup so that we can ideally win the title". The German selection of national coach Martina Voss-Tecklenburg plays at the World Cup in the preliminary round against Morocco, Colombia and South Korea.