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Frankfurt, Bayern draw in historic opener

Kalika Mehta Frankfurt
September 17, 2022

The women's Bundesliga's 22/23 season started with a bang, with the league breaking its all-time spectator record. The game itself saw Frankfurt secure a 0-0 draw against title challengers Bayern.

Eintracht Frankfurt fans at the home game against Bayern Munich
Eintracht Frankfurt's home game against Bayern saw an attendance record being brokenImage: Alex Grimm/Getty Images

When Bayern Munich's new signing Georgia Stanway went into a crunching tackle, earning herself a yellow card only seven minutes into her Bundesliga debut and almost taking out one of her own teammates in the process, jeers rang out throughout the Waldstadion in Frankfurt.

It was a signal of the tussle that would take place on the pitch, as Eintracht Frankfurt and Bayern each walked away with a hard-earned point having played out a goalless draw.

The far more interesting story, though, was taking place in the stands, where a record-breaking Bundesliga crowd of 23,200 spent most of the match creating a party atmosphere.

"It was a fantastic experience," Frankfurt captain Tanja Pawollek told the post-match press conference. "You could tell that we needed a bit of time to get into the game."

'Inspiring' attendance

"The attendance record is a great thing for women's football. Hopefully it turns out to be the next step, and people start to really enjoy the women's Bundesliga."

Only 90 minutes before the start of the match, gray skies engulfed Frankfurt as hordes of fans trudged through torrential rain toward the stadium that usually hosts Eintracht Frankfurt's men's side.

By the time the match kicked off, with plenty of fans still streaming through the turnstiles and into their seats, the clouds had fittingly cleared. The sun adorned the Waldstadion as the two sets of players readied themselves.

"We were very happy to play in front of so many fans," said Frankfurt forward Laura Freigang. "The setting inspired us."

It was a unique experience for most of the players, who were trying to focus on what was happening on the pitch rather than in the stands.

Record on the back of successful Euros

While both teams were peppered with international stars from Germany and England, who had played in front 87,192 spectators in the Euro 2022 final at Wembley on July 31, there were also a number of younger, less experienced players donning Frankfurt and Munich shirts on Friday evening.

Last season, only Eintracht Frankfurt and Turbine Potsdam had an average Bundesliga attendance of over 1,000, and the two best financially-backed sides Wolfsburg and Bayern averaged approximately 750.

Germany and Frankfurt defensive midfielder Sara Doorsoun believes the players can perform at a higher standard if they are afforded bigger stages.

"The fans created a brilliant atmosphere," she added. "Which is great for women's football in Germany."

Lara Prasnikar of Eintracht Frankfurt is challenged by Tainara of Bayern Munich.
Lara Prasnikar of Eintracht Frankfurt (with the ball) is challenged by Tainara of BayernImage: Alex Grimm/Getty Images

More games held at big stadiums

"If you give us the stage, advertise it properly, and provide the structures to put on events like that, that sort of thing will be possible more often."

"We played nice, aggressive football, we were good in our tackling and pressed well. It was cool how the emotion on the pitch transferred over to the fans."

It's already clear that this season the Bundesliga season opener will not be a one-off in the magnitude of where matches will be played.

Bundesliga champions Wolfsburg have announced that their home clash against Bayern Munich at the end of October will be played at the Volkswagen Arena — where the men's side play their matches.

Wolfsburg's Lena Oberdorf und Alexandra Popp holding the Bundesliga's championship trophy.
Bundesliga champions Wolfsburg, including Lena Oberdorf and Alexandra Popp, will host Bayern at the Volkswagen ArenaImage: Nico Paetzel/DeFodi Images/picture alliance

Investment key for game's future

While the appetite and respect for women's football is finally reaching the levels those involved in the game have long desired, there remains a gulf on the pitch.

Wolfsburg and Bayern Munich have traded the Bundesliga title between themselves over the last eight years, with the financial backing of the two sides allowing them not only to better remunerate their players but also provide other advantages, such as improved training facilities.

In order for the Bundesliga as a whole to take the next step toward growth and to truly match the increased interest in the game, serious investment will be key.

Frankfurt happy with draw

On Friday, though, despite the perceived distance between the sides, Frankfurt were buoyed by their home crowd support and more than held their own.

"You don't go into a game against Bayern and expect to have more of the ball," said forward Freigang. "We did just that. We could have come closer to goal in some situations, but we did well and we're happy with the point."

Doorsoun was equally pleased with her team's efforts. "We'd have taken a point ahead of kickoff but, given how it went, three points would have been well deserved," she said.

Bayern Munich players celebrate with their fans after the draw in Frankfurt.
Bayern Munich players celebrated with their fans after the draw in FrankfurtImage: Alex Grimm/Getty Images

In years to come, the 0-0 score will fail to tell the true story of the evening: a match that showed the appetite for women's football has been fully realized.

Now, it's a question of whether the league is fully ready to match the desire.

Edited by: Felix Tamsut