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'Perhaps you should employ more women'

Interview: Matthias Frickel / alDecember 24, 2014

Germany's national team coach Silvia Neid has won just about all there is to win in women's soccer. DW speaks with her about the upcoming Women’s World Cup in Canada and the public image of women's football.

Germany's head coach Silvia Neid
Image: Getty Images/AFP/Jonathan Nackstrand

DW: What is the big attraction about the upcoming Women's World Cup for you? After all, this isn't your first time at such a tournament.

Silvia Neid: That's true, it won't be my first time. In fact, it's my seventh Women's World Cup and I've taken part in a lot of European Championships too. A tournament like this is always a challenge. Everything that has happened before is irrelevant: You have to perform on the day and that makes things exciting. In Canada, other aspects will play a role too: There is the artificial grass we will have to play on, huge distances between the stadiums and for the first time, 24 teams will be taking part. But these are changes that we are happy to face.

Which players will be particularly important for you in your team? Who will take responsibility?

The last Women's Bundesliga game is on May 10, then the Women's Champions League final is on May 14. Four days later we will come together and all of the players will have had a long season. So firstly, we have to look at which players are not injured and what condition they are in. They have to be fit, otherwise it will be difficult to be a success at this World Cup. Then we can pick the team and see which players are even able to play in the World Cup. For that reason, I really can't name any key players at this point.

Are you still disappointed about Germany's last showing at the Women's World Cup, where you were knocked out in the quarter-finals even though Germany were hosts? And what about the fact that there only seems to be interest in women's football when the big tournaments take place?

We are definitely not disappointed. Women's football has developed massively, both internationally and nationally, and that's great. If you consider how long women's football has existed and you see what has happened in the clubs and on the international level, I think it's amazing. We shouldn't be disappointed. We just have to keep working and keep presenting our sport in the best possible light. But that happens automatically, since it keeps developing. It is more dynamic, more robust, more technical, and everything is getting faster. It's just like men's football, and so we are content.

Germany vs. Norway at EURO 2013
Women's football is faster and tougher than ever beforeImage: picture-alliance/Carmen Jaspersen

Regarding the last World Cup: That's old news. Everyone involved in sport knows that when you compete against teams that are equally good, you sometimes can lose. That's what happened to us. But I think we recovered well. We then prepared well for the European Championships and we won that with a very young team. That's why I think we are on the right path.

People in our sports editorial team are interested in women's football, but sometimes a few of the guys still complain that they don't see the point. Does it hurt to know this happens in the media, or do you get used to it?

Perhaps you should employ more women - they would likely be more interested in women's football. Perhaps that's the reason why people are against women's football. I can only say that for the people that I work with - and that's a lot of people - women's football is good. Some find it really great, some find it just "good." But generally, I think our sport is respected and accepted and, in the end, that's what counts. I don't love every sport either, and I don't find them all interesting, but I still respect them. We have achieved that in women's football and we are proud of that. Our success has contributed to that respect.

Silvia Neid
Neid celebrates winning the Women's European Championships in 2013 in SwedenImage: picture-alliance/dpa

Who will be Germany's biggest competition in Canada in June? The USA will surely be strong, as will the Japanese, and there are other teams too. Who do you think are the favorites?

There are actually eight favorites in my view. That's Canada, USA, Brazil and Japan, plus the four European teams: France, Sweden, Norway and ourselves. But then there are a few teams that could cause problems for the favorites - countries like Australia, Nigeria and Spain, who have improved considerably, and England, who have gotten better over the last few years too. It's going to be an exciting World Cup and I really can't say who will become the World Champions. Perhaps it will be an outsider, like Australia. I have no idea, but one thing is for sure: It will be played at a top level.

And then we will all celebrate Germany's third Women's World Cup title at Berlin's Brandenburg Gate next year?

That would be great, you should be there. I hope we are there too, with our team. But you just can't say in advance. As I said, it will be difficult, and you need a little bit of luck. Our first goal is to stay in the tournament for as long as possible. If we can make it to the final four, I personally think we would be a huge success, and then we'll see what happens.

The interview was conducted by Matthias Frickel, deputy head of DW's sports department and responsible for DW's football show Kick off. The program, which is broadcast in German, English, Spanish and Arabic, focuses mainly on Germany's men's Bundesliga but also runs stories on women's football. Three of the program's four roaming reporters are women, but only two of the show's 10 editors.