Bayern Munich′s Sarah Zadrazil wants to inspire next generation | Sports | German football and major international sports news | DW | 05.10.2021

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Bayern Munich's Sarah Zadrazil wants to inspire next generation

A new group stage, artwork, music and a major broadcast deal mark this season's Women's Champions League. Bayern's Sarah Zadrazil tells DW that she hopes the revamp takes the thunder from a potential biennial World Cup.

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Bayern's Zadrazil excited by revamp

It is all change in this season's Women's Champions League, which gets underway on Tuesday, and Bayern Munich star Sarah Zadrazil is particularly excited.

She believes that the revamp, which includes a quadrupling of prize money to €24 million ($27.8 million), can take the women's game in Europe to the next level.

"We want to inspire young girls to play and show people how cool it is to play football, and that women's football is amazing," she told DW.

"The women's game is growing," she said. "It is getting bigger and bigger, and I think it is important the big clubs invest and see the potential that women's football has."

Sarah Zadrazil of Bayern Munich scores the equalising goal during the UEFA Women s Champions League

Zadrazil scored in last season's semifinal against Chelsea but Bayern bowed out

Women's football has seen massive changes in recent years. Men's powerhouses such as Bayern have put money into their women's teams as more traditional female-only clubs like Zadrazil's former side Turbine Potsdam lose out.

"There's a big difference between Potsdam and Bayern, you just have way more opportunities here at Bayern," the Austrian midfielder added.

Now the Champions League rebranding appears to be the next step. There is a fresh logo, anthem and an accompanying "Queens of Football" art campaign which will culminate in an exhibit in Turin, the venue for May's final.

An art project showing female footballers

The Queens of Football campaign is part of the competition relaunch

The game changer is a four-year global broadcast deal with streaming platform DAZN, which includes action for free on YouTube, while a new group stage also increases exposure. Previously there was qualifying and then a knock-out phase but from this season there are four groups of four followed by the quarterfinals.

"I think the new format is just really cool in general, because you have the group stages, you have more games, you just have the best teams together in the group stage which is really cool," said Zadrazil.

Her Bayern side reached the semifinals last term but now have seven-times record winners Lyon in their group.

"We know that it will be tough to play against Lyon. But I also think we grew as a team compared to last year. We had a great season last year but we have some new players joining the team."

Shock allegations

Women's football may be on a high on the field, but off it there has been the shock allegations of sexual misconduct at US side North Carolina Courage. Coach Paul Riley, who denies the allegations, has been fired and the women's game has together demanded changes.

Portland Thorns coach Paul Riley

Ex-North Carolina Courage coach Paul Riley has been accused of sexual misconduct

"I think we should all stick together and be like one big community, supporting each other," Zadrazil said. "It is possible to raise awareness and tell people it is OK to speak up and it is not OK if something like this happens."

"We should use this platform together and stick together as much as we can, so I think it is good that people like Alex Morgan speak up and raise awareness because it is still an issue."

'There's not just men's football'

Some fear another unwanted headline for the female game could be the possible introduction of a men's and women's World Cup every two years. Zadrazil is not in favor and hopes the Champions League reboot outshines FIFA's plans.

"A World Cup every two years and the Euros and the Olympics, that is a lot, it is a burden for the players, you have to think about the players," the 28-year old said.

"But the Champions League right now allows us to say, 'hey everyone, watch women's football, it's super.' There's not just men's football so this is the right moment for the Champions League to have its own platform and its own campaign."

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