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Women's equality in World Soccer

What do women want?

Published in Israel Today: 26.06.2017 09:56 translated from Hebrew by Leon Gork

Women's involvement in men's football is rare, but in Germany they are trying to change this. In the coming season, three women will hold senior positions in the Bundesliga - group manager, scout and chief judge. "It's time for everyone to understand that football matters, not whether it’s a man or a woman"

Bibiana Steinhaus (center). Judge compared to Angela Merkel Photo: Reuters

Bibiana Steinhaus (center). The judge, compared to Angela Merkel


The first season of the Women's Football League in Colombia reminded us of the potential of the industry when investing in it. On the day the League was declared open, the president of the Santa Fe Club pledged to raise a respectable project with an investment similar to that of the men's group. Local stars joined the team, foreign players were acquired and the results were not long in coming. On the field the team overcame all its rivals, and at the same time the interest in the galleries and the media increased.

Yesterday, in the final match against Hoyle, 33,000 fans filled the stadium, an unprecedented amount in a non-World Cup match. Tens of thousands of enthusiastic fans saw Santa Fe winning 1: 1 (and 1: 3 in total) and celebrating a championship that is likely to change women's football in the country and perhaps even in South America. Colombia takes the subject seriously without cynicism, so much so that a group of men who will not form a women’s team could lose their place in the Libertadores Cup and the Sudamericana Cup.

The Colombian success story is part of the growth trend in women's football popularity. According to a UEFA report, there are currently 1.5 million registered players, more than 20,000 trainers and an economic investment that has tripled over the last five years. These numbers are very impressive and encouraging, but they talk about women's football when it stands on its own and it can not be concluded that there is gender equality. Women's involvement in men's football is still rare, and the Bundesliga is trying to change this.

Helena Costa is displaying in Frankfurt. "She has tremendous knowledge of football" (Photo: Getty Images)

"Mourinho in the skirt"

Last week, Eintracht Frankfurt, Taleb Tawatta's team, appointed Elena Costa to the team's scouts. The 39-year-old Portuguese, known as "Mourinho in the skirt," is a female pioneer in the world of male football. She holds an A license from UEFA, trained 13 years in Benfica's youth, was on Celtic's coaching team and made headlines when in 2014 she was appointed Claremont coach of the French sub-division.

The expectation of a revolution in French football was shattered quickly, as Costa abandoned the pre-season role by claiming disrespect for it. This season she will try again to break into the closed world, when she will be the first Scout in the history of the Bundesliga. "She has tremendous knowledge of football and that's exactly what we're looking for," explained Frankfurt's professional manager, Freddie Bovic.

This time, Costa will not be alone in making history. "When I was informed about the appointment, I remained speechless for a few minutes," said Bibiana Steinhaus, who will become the first judge in the history of the Bundesliga next season.

The 38-year-old German, the daughter of Judge Eber, was compared by local columnists to Chancellor Angela Merkel for an achievement that seemed unlikely until recently.

While it is not the 1950s, when women are banned from playing football, there is no shortage of chauvinism. Just two years ago, Fortuna Düsseldorf, Crimea Demerby, was suspended from five games after saying at the end of a game in which Steinhaus judged: "There is no room for women in men's football."

Primitive sentences like these are behind a broad trend, centered on the involvement of women in men's groups and a clear aspiration for gender equality. Many clubs in the two top leagues now employ women in key positions. The most famous is Kathleen Krueger, director of Bayern Munich and the first woman to hold the position. 32, a former player, Kruger handles the administrative affairs of the men's and women's group, takes care of the sponsors and sits on the bench alongside Ancelotti and past Guardiola. "I enjoy working with them, they treat me with respect," she said in an interview she gave to Bild in 2014.

Costa, Steinhaus and Kruger, each of which is a pioneer in its field, has a common goal: to stop being unique. They hope that the path paved by difficulties and wars will open the way for many women who want to integrate into male football. "Bibiana should be an inspiration for women who aspire to go far in the field," said Howard Webb, who is also Steinhaus' partner, adding that it is time for everyone to understand that what matters is who is good, not whether he is a man or a woman.

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