Hollywood stars and top athletes found a soccer club in America and made girls big. National goalkeeper Almuth Schulte moves to Angel City FC – an idea that has spread to Berlin. With the help of six starters, Victoria FC is set to play in the Bundesliga in five years.
A lot is changing at Hertha BSC right now. Many fans are hoping new president Kay Bernstein can give the oft-derided club a new image. Cosmopolitan, young, modern. The newly elected president is quick to set an example. This includes expanding the commitment to diversity and gender equality by collaborating with the women’s initiative “Football Can Do More”.
Avid fans of “Axel Kruse Jugend” plan to submit an application to establish at least one women’s or girls’ team at the upcoming general meeting. Because Hertha BSC has never played women’s football before. There is currently only one collaboration with Turbine Potsdam, the only club in the region represented in the Women’s Bundesliga. But with traditional club leadership mired in chaos and the sport at its peak, the women’s streak in Europe – winning the Champions League twice, among other things – has come to an end.
Berlin does not have a women’s team playing top-flight football. Because 1. FC Union Berlin also has no ambition. There is one team, but it plays in the regional league, third tier, and the women are amateurs. No money, and the club sees itself as a training club for women, so it stays that way. The focus is on men.
So the big Berlin clubs are weak when it comes to women’s football. The six girls don’t want to see this anymore and don’t want to go on the attack. With its own team, it is embedded in the club that gave men the third professional club in Berlin last season: FC Victoria 1889 Berlin.
“We want something to grow there.”
The women’s team currently plays as Union in the regional league and finished the season in fourth place, directly behind Union. But it should come to the Bundesliga within five years. An ambitious goal for ambitious women who want to make the club “a brand”. One of them is former national player and current DFB coach for U19 and U20, Ariane Hingst. Born in Berlin, he works as a sports consultant. She tells RBB: “We want to grow something there. We want to take people from Berlin and the region with us.”
The idea for the project came from Katharina Kurz, owner of BRLO brewery, and sports journalist Felicia Mutterer. They brought in multi-investor Verina Pouder, Vattenfall board member Tanja Vielkos, marketing expert Lisa Wahrer and Hingst. The club from southwest Berlin unanimously agreed in early June to spin off the women’s department into a separate Football GmbH, prompting investors to take action.
“The women’s football title will be developed in terms of content, will be appreciated and can operate as a separate entity accordingly,” Victoria managing director Peer Jagel told RBB. “The last few weeks and months have shown how women’s football is on the rise. Seeing the Champions League matches and what kind of backgrounds were played in front of them, it was simply impressive. Of course it feeds such a vision.” Over 90,000 fans flocked to the Camp Nou for FC Barcelona’s international games against Real Madrid and VFL Wolfsburg.
“Accelerators for Fair Play in Sports”
With their vision, the founders are following the example of Angel City FC, whose national goalkeeper Almuth Schulte will change after the European Championship. Two years ago, Hollywood star Natalie Portman co-founded the American startup with actresses Eva Longoria and Jennifer Garner, tennis star Serena Williams and former ski racer Lindsey Vonn. Female footballers are more successful than men in a country with equality and concern for financial fairness, but have had to fight in court for years to get equal pay. Her commitment has recently paid off.
“When we heard about Angel City FC, scales fell from our eyes,” Kurz told “Dagespiegel”. “We’re taking a club in Berlin, building it into a collective brand that didn’t exist before and bringing it forward.” It is not about visibility, better conditions for women and girls, compatibility of competitive sports and training and initially not directly about “equal pay”, because the differences in focus and marketing in Germany are too great. Globally, only seven percent of sponsorship money goes to women’s sports — a stark contrast. “We no longer want to talk or wait for women to win their place in football. We want to promote fair play in the sport ourselves,” Wielgoß told “Tagesspiegel”.
Victoria’s footballers to be offered contracts Non-news in women’s football is not uncommon. According to Kurz at RBB, not all players can live on their salaries, even in the Bundesliga, which only includes allowances for travel expenses in the 2nd division. In regional leagues you even pay for club membership. In Victoria they “should at least be insured by the trade association”, Kurz told RBB: “That’s a big issue too. You play at a high level and if something happens to you, you’re not responsible. Some services are covered.”
With every win, the girls get closer to the money. The plan to play in the Bundesliga in five years is ambitious. However, stakeholders rely on good sponsors: “It is becoming increasingly important for companies to show their attitude and take responsibility,” Kurz told “Tagesspiegel”. Former world-class swimmer Franziska von Almsik, football official Katja Kraus and businesswoman Lea-Sophie Kraemer are now present.
The ambassadors are former justice minister Brigitte Zyprise, DB Cargo CEO Sigrid Nikuta and sociologist and head of the Berlin Social Science Center Jutta Allmendinger. Berlin’s ruling mayor, Franziska Kiffi, said according to “Handelsblatt”: “The best football in the eyes of the public is still mostly dominated by men. That’s why I support the idea of making football more feminine in our capital and throughout the country. I like it. All the best to the project, the initiators and the team.”
A completely new foundation was questionable for starters, as the team had to start in the district class due to regulations in Germany. Just like Borussia Dortmund did with their women’s team, they managed to get promoted directly in the first year, but there are five more promotions before they reach the Bundesliga.
Victoria has “only” three steps to go. Victoria’s squad is still being expanded, with a head coach soon to be introduced, with sporting direction in the hands of Henner Johnson, a football consultant who specializes in women’s football. In August, the team starts the season with the first round of the DFB Cup. The new plan is already stirring up football.