Germany women's soccer stars slam court for sexist judgment

·2 min read

BERLIN — Germany women's soccer stars are calling for an explanation over why a male coach was apparently ordered to take charge of a female team’s training sessions as part of his punishment for verbally abusing female match officials.

The players from the top two divisions issued a joint statement Saturday condemning the decision made in a case against Borussia Mönchengladbach under-23 team coach Heiko Vogel at the sports court of the West German soccer association (WDFV).

Vogel was made to answer at the court following his comments to Vanessa Arlt and Nadine Westerhoff, who were officiating at a game involving his team on Jan. 30.

The court on March 9 issued Vogel with a fine of 1,500 euros ($1,800), a ban for two league games, and ordered him to take charge of six training sessions of a women’s or girls’ team before June 30.

“The question arises as to how the training of a women’s or girls’ team can be defined as punishment,” the players said in a joint statement that was shared on Instagram by Germany captain Alexandra Popp among others. “There is also no value in offering to compensate for such unsporting behaviour by offering to train a women’s team for a few hours."

The statement said the judgment "discriminates against all women in sport and especially in soccer.”

The WDFV said in a statement on its website that it is also critical of the arrangement and that it has asked the court to review the decision.

“There is no room for discrimination either in soccer or in society,” WDFV vice-president Gundolf Walaschewski said. “The WDFV and with it the soccer family in North Rhine-Westphalia are expressly committed to this. That means no tolerance for sexist discrimination and no tolerance for discrimination in general.”

The German soccer federation (DFB) also backed the players’ call.

“It’s incomprehensible for me that training a women’s team is given as a punishment,” DFB vice-president Hannelore Ratzeburg said. “I can therefore understand the players’ anger and why they make themselves heard in public. We have been in exchange with the WDFV for several days. The fact that the executive committee of the WDFV has clearly positioned itself and ordered a review of the judgment is a correct and necessary sign.”

Gladbach sporting director Max Eberl had already criticized Vogel for his comments to the officials.

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Ciarán Fahey on Twitter: https://twitter.com/cfaheyAP

CiaráN Fahey, The Associated Press