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Bundesliga hopes to build to Euro 2022 success

September 15, 2022

The Frauen Bundesliga makes its anticipated return this weekend. Is this the season women's domestic football in Germany both develops and delivers for players and spectators?

Wolfsburg women celebrating their Bundesliga title last year
Wolfsburg won their fifth Bundesliga title in eight seasons last seasonImage: Christian Modla/dpa/picture alliance

When Euro 2022 runners-up Germany returned home on August 1, they were greeted by a throng of over 7,000 fans who had spent July enthralled by their teams unexpected journey to the final.

This Friday, a record-breaking Frauen Bundesliga crowd is expected to greet Eintracht Frankfurt and Bayern Munich when they meet at Frankfurt's Waldstadion.

It is also not to be overlooked that the season's opening match is taking place at Frankfurt's men's arena – a signal of the continued growth and progression of the women's game within Germany.

Whether this proves to be another false dawn for women's football or a pivot towards real change remains unclear.

'We hope to have started something'

At the Germany team's homecoming in Frankfurt, coach Martina Voss-Tecklenburg spoke of the desire to use the impetus of the international team's successful Euros campaign to accelerate change within the domestic game.

"We hope we have started something here," Voss-Tecklenburg told DW. "We hope that the attention we received will mean more girls will want to play football.

"There is a lot of work to be done, but that was also the case before (the Euros). We just want to use the moment to add a bit more pressure."

Wolfsburg and Germany captain Alexandra Popp echoed her international coach's thoughts and revealed that her and her teammates are increasingly being noticed, as their personal popularity grows as the general interest in the women's game increases.

"When we walk around Wolfsburg now," Popp explained to DW. "It feels like everyone recognizes us and gives us positive feedback, that we played an amazing tournament.

"It's nice to be recognized and appreciated, we're pleased about that because it was one of our aims to make a splash here in Germany."

'We have to push ourselves to the limit'

Recognition, while pleasant, is limited in the impact it can garner for the improvement of wider game and many players in the footballing pyramid.

Women's domestic football remains under the auspices of the German Football Association (the DFB), with Bundesliga holders Wolfsburg and their main challengers Bayern Munich having traded the title between themselves over the past eight seasons.

Alexandra Popp celebrates scoring a goal during Euro 2022
Germany and Wolfsburg captain Alexandra Popp was the joint top-scorer at Euro 2022Image: Rui Vieira/AP Photo/picture alliance

The gap between the 'big two' and the rest of the league and teams further down the footballing tree is hard to ignore but Popp credits 'Die Wölfinnen' for investing heavily in the team.

"We've had to invest a lot in order to reach the top over the last few years," Popp said. "We don't ever want to stop playing football at a high level, because that's where we can develop ourselves."

Investment key to growth

But, Popp is clear that serious sponsorship is what is necessary to help the league grow and become more competitive as a whole.

"There's an extreme hype around women's football at the moment and now it's about sustainability," the striker explained.

"That means generating sponsors, not just for the national team but also for the league, in order to build the parameters that are missing in some areas.

"We need sponsors in order to develop structures at other clubs, to invest money and place funds, so that the quality of the league improves as well."

While the bigger picture around women's football remains a hot topic in the current climate, Popp and Wolfsburg remain fully focused on ensuring another successful season on the pitch.

Wolfsburg still the team to beat

The seven-time league winners have improved their squad over the summer, signing amongst others German defender Martina Hegering – who was named in the Euro 2022 Team of the Tournament – from rivals Bayern Munich and defensive midfielder Jule Brand from Hoffenheim.

Hegering was quick to dismiss any added pressure on the team, despite knowing extra and perhaps more critical eyes will be on the team and league.

"We've got a pretty strong squad," she said. "There's no denying it but we still have to perform in every game. With new players, things need time to settle down. Wolfsburg won two trophies last season, so we've got our hands full defending those titles."

Bayern Munich's Georgia Stanway in action
Bayern Munich have signed attacking midfielder Georgia Stanway from Manchester CityImage: Markus Fischer/Passion2Press/IMAGO

'It's a different level'

For Brand, the levels of professionalism at her new club was a driving force behind making the switch but believes Wolfsburg face stiff competition in the league this season.

"Other teams have also made good signings at Bayern, Leverkusen, Frankfurt," she said. "We've improved too. I hope that everything remains exciting but that we still finish the season on top.

"Wolfsburg's performance, their potential, the club, the team, everything they've achieved and still want to achieve, I think it's a very good club for me."

Wolfsburg will undoubtedly take some stopping on the field, but their competitors can be hopeful that with more eyes on the Frauen Bundesliga, a start has already been made in making the league competitive once more.

Edited by Michael Da Silva