The 31st October 1970 is an historic date in the history of women’s football in Germany – the DFB officially accepted women’s football into the association on this day. To mark the 50th anniversary, DFB president Fritz Keller spoke about his passion for women’s football.
DFB.de: Mr. Keller, you are known as a great supporter of women’s football. Why are you so passionate about it?
Fritz Keller: Why shouldn’t I be? I love football, which means I love women’s football too. Ultimately, football is football, whether it’s women’s, men’s, amateur, professional or youth football. At SC Freiburg, where I used to be president, there has been a women’s side since 1975 and we always saw us as one united club. Investing in women’s and girl’s football is an investment in the future. One of my first public meetings as DFB president was founding the women’s Hall Of Fame side at the German Football Museum in Dortmund. It was a great event that honoured legends of our women’s national team, who have done so much for our sport and we are all massively proud of what they achieved.
DFB.de: Nevertheless, this is only the 50th anniversary of women’s football in Germany, while the first World Cup win for Germany’s men’s side was 66 years ago.
Keller: Nowadays, whenever we speak about football we should be thinking of women’s football too. We still have to fight for this every day though. We are making good progress and several clubs have recently increased their involvement in women’s football. This is a strong sign from clubs with real influence on the game. It’s true though that the rise has been rapid but also not without problems along the way, because our female players have had to overcome a number of challenges, some even because of the DFB. Just like in society over the past few decades, great progress has been made towards equality and thankfully the DFB has also developed in this regard. Mistakes are there to be learned from.
DFB.de: You mentioned development and progress. Are you satisfied with what has been achieved so far?
Keller: I am proud of what our players in Germany have achieved both on and off the pitch, in some cases in really tough situations. You can’t underestimate this at all. Women’s football has developed really well in Germany, but at the same time I’m certain that there’s still a lot of development to come. Women’s football has so much potential, which we need to strive for together with the clubs, sponsors, the media and the fans. Women’s football as a success story hasn’t had its ‘happy end’ yet – we want to write that story now.
DFB.de: The next chapter of this story could be in seven years at the World Cup, which Germany wants to host along with Belgium and the Netherlands.
Keller: We won’t be waiting seven years for further development, but the 2027 World Cup will hopefully be another important step in strengthening women’s football in Germany. A World Cup in your own backyard is the perfect advertisement for a sport. Nevertheless, the results of the national team need to be good as well. The well-organised tournament in 2011 didn’t have a lasting effect unfortunately. I have no doubts that our women’s side will play a big role in 2027 as well as in the EUROs in 2022 in England and in the 2023 World Cup in Australia and New Zealand. National coach Martina Voss-Tecklenburg has put together a young, exciting team that is great to watch on the pitch. They qualified for the EUROs in England after an excellent qualification campaign, winning six games and not conceding a single goal. Our national team players are also a great squad off the pitch with their humour and wit.
DFB.de: A number of Germany internationals have moved to prestigious clubs abroad recently. Does this represent the quality of those players or do the German clubs need to improve to stay competitive internationally?
Keller: Our national team will also profit from the experience that these players collect from playing abroad at top clubs. Our FLYERLARM women’s Bundesliga is also an attractive league, which can compete against the other top European leagues. The sporting aspects and the infrastructure of the league are great. The league will also be strengthened now Eintracht Frankfurt, a club with a lot of history and passionate fans, has joined this season. I would like to thank Eintracht, as well as Borussia Dortmund and Schalke 04, for getting properly involved with women’s football. They won’t regret it, not just because they are fulfilling their social responsibility. When you look to England, for example, you can see the additional marketing opportunities women’s football can provide. Many sponsors want clubs to be involved in women’s football now before they enter a partnership. This is a great message with a huge impact.
DFB.de: Around 1.1 million of the approximately 7 million DFB members are female. Do you think this is enough?
Keller: This also shows the opportunities that women’s football can offer. I’m obviously not satisfied with this figure, even if the number of female members has increased by 11,000 over the past year. We want to get more and more girls and women interested in football and give them the opportunities they need, because any girl who wants to play should be able to. In many clubs, not just in cities, there are waiting lists for girls who want to start football training. On the one hand, I’m pleased with the high demand, but on the other it’s clear that there aren’t enough training sessions or coaches. We need to work on this.