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Interview with Jasmine Sommer: Women in Football

As a part of our campaign Focus: Women in football we met with Jasmine Sommer from „real. girls. play. SOCCER“. In an interview, she talks to us about how she feels, where she stands and where she wants football to go.

Video interview: Jasmine Sommer

How did Jasmine get into football?

- Hello Jasmine, thank you for finding the time to talk to us. Can you briefly introduce yourself and how you got into football? 

- Well, I grew up in a family where football has always been very important. My mum played football, and my dad played football, so I was more or less born into football. And I started playing it very early on. Women's football is very important to me, which is why it makes perfect sense for me to get involved in "Focus: Women in Football 2024".

The current status of women's football

- Okay, thank you. Why do you think women's football, as it is now, is not as important as it could and should be? 

- I think it's quite simple. When you think of football, you first think of the men’s game. It's mainly male footballers who come to mind and not so much female footballers. The fact is that football is very male-dominated and that's why the status of women is not as high as it should be. Also because women's football was banned in Austria for a while. 

A look at gender equality in sport

How do you perceive the current situation in this area and how did this rethink come about in recent years and where are we heading? 

- On the one hand, there is now more funding, fortunately, and that's why it's easier for women's football to be played. The overall conditions have also changed. There are more and more girls' and women's football teams. There is a greater focus on girls and women in football and they are given the space they need to achieve something. And a lot has already happened, especially in terms of visibility and the successes that have contributed to the way things are.

Greater visibility for women in sport

- How can we, how can you, how can society as a whole ensure greater visibility, and not just for women in football, but for more equality in sport in general? 

- I think it starts with the coverage. If you open a normal newspaper, the space given to women in football is often very small. If you talk more about women in football or women in sports in general, then the picture changes and then it's completely natural that women get exactly the same space that men get.

Lack of female coaches in women's football

- Do you think it has anything to do with the fact that there are fewer women coaches in general? Or what is your experience? 

- Yes, there are far too few women coaches. One reason is that I think women can be less confident. So if you ask them, men immediately say, yes, I'll do it, I'll dare to do it, and women can be very shy. ISo I think you have to address them specifically and maybe also offer them some funding opportunities, as is currently the case in Burgenland, where women are supported if they want to do a coaching course, there is financial support from the state. I think that could be a first incentive.

Inequality in the funding of men's and women's football

- You mentioned funding earlier. What causes the inequalities between women and men in general? Why do women's teams get less funding than men's teams?

- I think it was just that the funding was given to men because that's the way football developed. Women came later, so they had to fight for many things that men took for granted in football. Like getting kits or other sponsorships. To some extent, that's still not the case for women. I think in the Austrian second Bundesliga they get a car mileage allowance and that's it. If you compare that with the men, there is still a huge imbalance. 

Football - the beautiful game

- We've often compared men and women in this conversation. Let's talk about general topics for a moment. What is the beauty of playing football and sport in general for you? 

- I think football is an incredibly enjoyable sport because you achieve things together. You win together, you lose together, and you sit together afterward and think about what you could have done differently. It's just a great team sport and it shows that you can achieve a lot more together than you can alone.

Personal experiences and challenges in women's football

- What negative experiences have you had in the past and how have you dealt with them? 

I had the experience of being the only girl on the team. When you're alone in front of a goal and you don't get the ball because you're a girl, it really hurts. It was very hard for me. My dad was my coach and he always tried to support me. But at some point, you wonder if you're good enough and you lose interest in the sport. That was the reason why I stopped playing football.

Sexism and misogyny in football

- What is the current situation regarding machismo, sexism and misogyny on the pitch? 

- I think it's diminishing a bit. It's not as bad as it was a few years ago, but it's still there. You just have to look at the comments online. When our women's national team does well, you can still find a lot of very sexist comments. And unfortunately, the further you go into the countryside, the worse it gets. People still say women can't play football. In some places, there's still a very sexist attitude. Success is also denied. It's not nice.

Women's Football in Austria

- Let’s talk about the national team. It's been getting better and better over the years and it's been coming more and more into the limelight. Yet, I think it was a European Championship qualifying match against England, who were European champions at the time.And they played at a sold-out Wembley. And in the second leg, when they played in Austria, they played in front of 2000 people in Wiener Neustadt. What's your opinion on that? What do you think is the difference between Austria and England?

- Difficult. I think it's also something that has grown historically in Austria. We were relatively late in establishing the women's national team. I think it was in the '90s. It wasn't that long ago. And that's why I think the awareness isn't there yet. If you compare our national team with those of other countries, we can really hold our own. These are successes you don't have to hide behind. I think it just needs to reach people across the board. For people to support them and say that women can really play football. There was an interesting study about that. They showed pixellated scenes of men and women. The general opinion was that it was really good football. And only afterward were they told that they were women. And everybody was really surprised. I think sometimes you have to let go of the fact that they're women. I think it should be about the sport itself.

Pioneers and role models

- Now let’s talk about your community. Do you have any good examples or clubs that are leading the way and working well in this area? Managers, coaches, or players who are committed to increasing the importance of women's football in Austria or in general? 

- Yes, in my area. We started this project in Burgenland. "real. girls. play. SOCCER.„. We now have a lot of female coaches in my area and a lot of clubs that are really making a difference. I think a lot is happening in Burgenland. And I think it's great that the women's representative of the Burgenland Football Association is also very supportive. 

–  Was macht ihr da genau? 

- We have launched several initiatives. One of them is the pilot project for girls' school leagues. So that girls can play in school leagues just like boys and also get support at school. We have this financial support that I've already mentioned. We have set up various support centers so that the talented players can be supported in the same way as the boys. Many, many things. And it pays off because Burgenland is currently the region with the most girls' teams in the whole of Austria. 

Hopes for the future of women's football

- Lastly, if a fairy handed you a magic wand and you could change three things about women in football, what would they be? 

- Equal pay for men and women in football. Give women and girls the same opportunities, i.e. all the support that men and boys get. And more visibility for women in sport or football.

Focus: Women in Football 2024

We at zone14 are running a pioneering initiative in the DACH region from 8 February to 8 March: "Focus: Women in Football". The aim of the campaign is to raise awareness and give the achievements of female athletes the attention they deserve. As part of the campaign, zone14 is planning a series of events, online activities, and social media initiatives to generate enthusiasm for women's sport. By specifically promoting women's football, we aim to contribute to equality in sport and highlight diversity in the sports sector. 

The highlight of the campaign will be a panel discussion on 4 March at the FH-Technikum, Höchstädtplatz 6 in Vienna, moderated by Sky reporter Nera Palinic. Experts, athletes, coaches, and representatives of renowned clubs such as Sturm Graz and LASK, as well as Bundesliga and UEFA referee Sara Telek, will take part in the discussion and debate on important issues relating to women's football and women's sport in general.

As a thank you for reading this blog, the first 10 of you can use the discount code "blog1" to get the tickets completely free .

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Women in Football - The Talk

Panel Discussion | 4th March 2024

At FH Technikum Vienna

#SheCanPlay