Laura Freigang (left), Pernille Harder (right) and Lena Oberdorf are three faces of the new Bundesliga season
Alex Grimm / Getty Images; Memmler / Eibner / IMAGO;
When the Bundesliga restarted in September 2022, it was in front of a record crowd. 23,200 fans had come to the Frankfurt Arena to watch the opening match of the Eintracht women's team against FC Bayern.
More than ever before. The mood was great. In the summer, the German footballers were runners-up in the European Championships in England. In the meantime, the record for a home game in the Women's Bundesliga is as high as 38,365 fans.
This will not be broken at this year's season opener. The Dreisam Stadium, venue for the opening match between SC Freiburg and Bayern (18:15 CET/ZDF, DAZN and MagentaSport), can only accommodate just under 24,000 fans. So far, almost 10,000 tickets have been sold.
Perhaps the sluggish sales are also related to what happened in August. The German national players have missed the opportunity to give their sport a new lease of life. Instead, they failed disastrously in the preliminary round at the World Cup in Australia and New Zealand. The mood is now much worse.
So the question after the World Cup embarrassment is also: Can the upward trend in Germany, including record crowds, still continue after the European Championship boom?
Before the start of the season, we answer the most important questions here.
Will the league continue to boom?
Hoffenheim manager Ralf Zwanziger does not expect a further upswing for women's football in Germany for the time being. "Of course, a much more successful World Cup would certainly not have hurt the euphoria surrounding women's football, even with a view to the first matchday. You just don't feel a boost," says the head of the girls' and women's football development centre in Hoffenheim. His club sold 103 season tickets before the start of the season, the same number as a year ago.
In any case, the clubs want to boost growth with more top matches in large stadiums and increasing investment in professionalisation. The increased visibility through the significantly improved TV contract with higher revenues, more channels and a special match date, which, however, has already caused a lot of criticism, should help. More on that in a moment.
Defending champions FC Bayern have made top-class reinforcements in the summer in order to be ahead again in the annual duel with VfL Wolfsburg. Since 2013, the championship has only gone to these two clubs. An ex-Wolfsburg player is set to help FC Bayern in their title race: former VfL striker Pernille Harder is returning to the Bundesliga.
With the Dane, Harder's partner Magdalena Eriksson joins FC Bayern. The world-class duo comes from Chelsea FC and is another building block on FC Bayern's way to becoming a top team with international stars. Before Harder and Eriksson, top players Georgia Stanway (England) and Saki Kumagai (Japan) had already moved to Munich, and the Japanese player has since moved on to AS Roma.
VfL Wolfsburg is increasingly focusing on talent in its current purchasing strategy. This summer, VfL signed several players under the age of 25, including exciting players such as Dutchwoman Caitlin Dijkstra, Nuria Rábano from FC Barcelona and winger Vivien Endemann, who previously played in Essen.
With Eintracht Frankfurt, a third team wants to intervene in the fight for the championship. Last year, the SBU was five points behind champions Bayern Munich, the year before it was thirteen points. On the transfer market, Eintracht held back and lost two important players in Sjoeke Nüsken (Chelsea) and Laura Feiersinger (AS Roma).
Who shows the games?
A total of ten matches will be broadcast live on public television by ARD and ZDF. DAZN is the new main home of the Bundesliga alongside MagentaSport (both for a fee), with both platforms broadcasting all matches. Recently, games have also been played on Monday evenings – preferably for this slot, Sport1 has secured a rights package.
How much does the league make from TV broadcasts?
The new TV contracts are also having a financial impact. According to the DFB, license revenues will increase 16-fold compared to the past rights period and now amount to 5.17 million euros gross per year. The men's Bundesliga earns almost one billion euros in TV money per season.
The DFB distributes 90 percent of TV revenues to the clubs. That is 4.657 million euros. Unlike the men, each club receives the same share. This results in 388,000 euros per club, which is almost six times as much as before.
Why do the Monday games cause discussions?
Many Bundesliga footballers are still not full professionals who can make a living exclusively from the income from football. Discussions about a possible basic salary of 2000 to 3000 euros gross per month have not yet been pursued. According to Sabine Mammitzsch of the DFB, the average salary in the Bundesliga should be 3500 euros, but the many top players in Munich and Wolfsburg have a significant influence on this supposedly high level. Part-time jobs are therefore still part of everyday life in women's football, which is why Monday games are particularly problematic.
National player Kathrin Hendrich of DFB Cup winners VfL Wolfsburg is therefore "sceptical". In Wolfsburg, "no player works on the side," the 31-year-old told Sportbild: "But with other teams, the players have to take vacation to play on Mondays. That's difficult. The framework conditions need to be improved." The first Monday game will be played on 2 October between FC Bayern and 1.
Will the many cruciate ligament tears remain an issue this season?
Cruciate ligament tears are among the worst injuries in football. Women are affected much more frequently, as shown last season alone, when several players were sidelined with this serious injury.
There are many reasons for the increase in women's football. One of them is the physique. Women are prone to X-legs. As a result, the knees bend inwards more easily when changing direction or braking quickly, which puts a lot of strain on the cruciate ligament. Lack of professionalism in training, too little prevention, a poor state of research, but also not yet sufficiently developed shoes for female footballers can be further reasons for the frequent injuries among female footballers. A text on this topic can be found here.
There is good news: Germany international and Bayern player Giulia Gwinn, who had already torn the anterior cruciate ligament in both knees, will return this season. She is fit again. There is bad news from Wolfsburg's Rebecka Blomqvist, who twisted her knee in the DFB Cup last week. The diagnosis: rupture of the anterior cruciate ligament.
What's next for the German national team?
The DFB selection has only a few days left to recover from the World Cup embarrassment. The newly created Nations League begins for the German team next Friday. The first opponent is Denmark, Iceland awaits on 26 September. Through the Nations League, two European teams qualify for next year's Summer Olympics in Paris. The Olympics are much more important in women's football than in men's, where the squads consist mainly of U21 juniors.
The German team goes into the two opening games without national coach Martina Voss-Tecklenburg. The 55-year-old has called in sick and is being replaced by her assistant Britta Carlson. Originally, the result of the World Cup reappraisal was to be available by the start of the Nations League and thus the question of whether Voss-Tecklenburg could still lose her position as national coach after the World Cup disaster was to be clarified. After the World Cup, Voss-Tecklenburg, contract until 2025, had ruled out a retirement.
DFB President Bernd Neuendorf has now said that a result will be announced with the recovery of Voss-Tecklenburg.
With material from dpa and sid