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Norway: Lise Klaveness becomes the first woman to head both football national teams


Player, commentator - now Lise Klaveness is the first boss to take over the sporting leadership of both national football teams in Norway. Social media helps her endure verbal injuries.

In Norway, a TV series causes a stir. In "Heimebane" (for example, home ground) a trainer leaves her successful women's team to become the first female coach of a men's team in Norway's first league. With hard bandages she has to fight in the award-winning drama against absurd prejudices in a superficially emancipated society. A woman at the head of a first-class men's football team - all fiction? Still yes.

But the Norwegian Football Association has made another historic decision. With Lise Klaveness, for the first time, a woman becomes head of the national teams - that of men and women.

SPIEGEL ONLINE: Ms Klaveness, who is best suited for her job as director of elite football in Norwegian football: the former national player Lise Klaveness, the referee, the lawyer, the judge or the commentator Lise Klaveness?

Lise Klaveness: I hope we all. The decisive factor for me, however, was that the association was looking for someone with a scientific background and that he needed my experience as a lawyer. That I have a footballing past is certainly helpful, but the association did not want a sports manager. They were looking for someone to build long-term structures.

SPIEGEL ONLINE: Will you and your work be particularly critically eyed - as a woman in this prominent position?

Klaveness: Of course the focus on me as the first woman in such a position is different. But that's more of an administrative task. I do not think the outcry will be that big. I see the job as a normal leadership position. And me as a normal boss of ordinary people who go to work in the morning.

Lise Klaveness is used to some people believing that being a woman can not be the right thing for a job in the football business. Much like Claudia Neumann on German television, she was the first woman on the football microphone in Norway. She was also abused and insulted. "Burning a witch" was one of the more harmless comments. In Russia she has commented for the first time men's World Cup matches.

SPIEGEL ONLINE: You have been present on the radio for 15 years, have already received a lot of criticism. How do you react?

Klaveness: I was 22 years old when I started commenting. It felt worse then. There were times when I did not want to show myself on the screen anymore. Today I can carry this load much easier. Sure, that'll come close again if you're tired or exhausted, but I've prepared for it. Sporty and mental. Therefore, it has no great effect on me today. One must also say: In 99 percent of the cases, the reactions were overwhelmingly positive this time.

SPIEGEL ONLINE: Now, for the first time, you have commented on men's World Cup matches, and once again, the trolls worked their way up to you. Has nothing changed?

Klaveness: Every time I did something for the first time, it was pretty much the same harsh and hurtful comments. But, and that has changed: For each of these outgrowths a prominent football man has joined me. In the past, when there was no social media, people were much more lonely in these situations. I myself have not really talked or told anyone about it. Now the men in their forties are finally getting their word out. They are listened to. They take more responsibility today, risking facing these people. That was not the case in the past. And that is actually the reason why I do this work.

SPIEGEL ONLINE: What do you mean?

Klaveness: I want to see how the football community deals with equality issues. I want to be part of this process. And I am proud of it. Sure, there are some evenings where you think: It's been more than ten years now - and they still talk about my voice, about how I look, how to dress. But I try to keep my emotions out. It's not about me, it's about football. This is my sport, which I have chosen. And he does not belong to the men alone. He belongs to all those who love him. And I play longer than most people who criticize me.

Lise Klaveness was twelve years old when she fell in love with football. Her father was a coach of a youth team. And daughter Lise wanted to join. But she quickly realized that her father did not think she was good enough. That was not pejorative or even disapproving, just a look, an expression of how he perceives him as a child right away - and can turn a little talented but all the more ambitious girl ever a national player.

The ball and the young Lise - it became a very close relationship. Everywhere she took him, to bed, yes, even to the grandfather's funeral. She came jogging along the way to school. If the ball fell down, she had to start again where she had lost him. Since the three kilometers could ever be very long. Certainly not a healthy way to train, Klaveness knows that too. But within two years, she had made up for what others had in store for her, who had been there for much longer. At 16, she played in the first division. Many say that it is also her and her passion for sports that football in Norway is the country's largest female and female sport.

Allow, football boss

The professional career of Lise Klaveness began at age 16. For the national team she completed 72 games - one of which this European Championship semi-final 2005 against Sweden. In the final, the team Germany had to give up.

In January 2006, Klaveness and her colleagues were honored at the sports gala "Idrettsgalla".

In 2007, she joined the national team at the World Cup in China.

And they hailed a goal in the group match against Ghana. Norway lost the semi-final against the later world champions from Germany.

With Swedish and Norwegian clubs the attacker (here in the jersey of Stabæk IF) became champion and cup winner.

As a player from Toppserien club Stabæk IF Klaveness 2010 won the Fair Play Prize.

In 2012 she ended her active career. She worked as an athletic trainer and referee, works as a lawyer and judge.

She most recently worked as a commentator on Norwegian radio. In September, she will start her new job as director of elite football in the Norwegian Football Association.

SPIEGEL ONLINE: You have always stood up for equal rights. Will that be a primary concern for the new job?

Klaveness: Not really, no.


Klaveness: The board has assured me that equal rights should not be an issue - but standard. After all, that's the same as the association's values, so in Norway we've also got equal pay for both teams. At the club level, one can perhaps argue differently, because economic aspects can play a role. But in the association they all represent our country. There is no A team and B brand. Of course, there are different challenges. But for budgets or equipment issues we should not measure with varying degrees. Equality is a big part of my personal motivation. But for me it is very important not to go into the job with political views. My main concern is to make elite football in Norway better for the future so that it does not lose more ground.

The Norwegian Football Association has been through crisis years - at the federation level as well as athletic. The men's national team is number 53 in the world rankings of 206 teams, while the women are ranked 14th out of 140. The men should finally qualify for a World Cup again after 1998. The final round of an EM, the men reached so far only once, 2000 they failed as a group third in the first round. Although women are regularly represented internationally, they are supposed to build on those successful years when they became world champions (1995), European champions (1987, 1993) and Olympic champions (2000).

Lise Klaveness says the opportunity to advance the development of the best women and men in the country is a privilege for her. In fact, Norwegian football is a success in many ways, with few countries having such a high number of organized players in relative terms. However, the A teams and top clubs performed worse on an international level than one would expect against this background.

SPIEGEL ONLINE: You say you have the full support of the association. Surely there are those among you who want to cling to old power structures that say: We've always done so. How do you meet them?

Klaveness: I'm not naive. I expect that I must be very clear and clear in what I imagine. But I also decided not to see the difficulties before the possibilities. People and opinions are changing. The board said: Equality is important to us. I will remind her if necessary. A change is possible. And it does not help anyone if I take a biased approach to the task. Yes, structures can be problematic. But I've also found that people within those structures want to do good things.

Source: spiegel

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