Euro 2022. Thousands gathered to welcome the German team back from

BERLIN (AP) – Germany’s defeat to England in the final of the Women’s European Championship could prove to be more rewarding for women’s football in the country than any other title.

Team of Heroes was welcomed in Frankfurt on Monday, as thousands of flag-waving fans flocked to the city hall to show their admiration for coach Martina Vos-Tecklenburg and her players.

“It’s crazy that a performance is recognized over several weeks and not just with a win,” Voss-Tecklenburg said.

Chloe Kelly’s goal in extra time denied Germany a ninth European title and gave England their first – setting up a rousing celebration in that country – but the German team reaching the final caused much excitement among fans, at least No less because men have been flops in major tournaments since winning the 2014 World Cup.

Sunday’s final on German broadcaster ARD was watched by an average of about 18 million viewers, breaking an 11-year-old record for women’s football from the 2011 World Cup. As Germany reached the final, the figures for Euro 2022 increased in view. Just over 12 million saw the semi-final win over France.

Alexandra Pope, who scored six goals to guide her team to the final at Wembley, missed the decider after reporting a muscle problem in the warmup. This gave Germany’s defeat a sense of tragedy without its captain, and made the team all the more endearing to its fans.

“We really wanted to be European champions, not champions of hearts,” Vos-Tecklenburg said. “But if the great performance helped us find our place in the hearts of the German people, we are happy to be champions of hearts.”

The pride in performance and the disappointment of losing has led some to accuse the German football federation of not doing enough to support female players, and of considering women’s football as an afterthought than men’s.

“The fact is that no real awareness is shown when three games in the (men’s) German Cup are scheduled with the women’s final at Wembley,” Greens parliamentary group spokeswoman Britta Hasselmann told DPA news agency. “Support for young football-loving girls and women has to be ramped up in a big way. It cannot fail because of the financial resources in the federation. It really needs to go now. ,

Government spokesman Wolfgang Buchner said it plans to do more for women’s football, although he did not get into specifics. He added that Germany’s performance in England means it is “a role model for many women in sport and in other areas of society.”

German football league president Hans-Joachim Watzke said he expected Voss-Tecklenburg’s team’s race in the final – and the interest it generated at home – would have a knock-on effect for the women’s Bundesliga, where viewership is usually quite low.

“Tournaments are good and important, but ideally they should reflect on everyday sporting life. I love it because I see the immense commitment in women’s football. But in the end it’s always the same – you’re off your feet. Vote,” Watzke told Kicker magazine.

Watzke, chief executive of men’s heavyweight Borussia Dortmund, noted the lower income generated by women’s football compared to men’s sport when it comes to the debate over equal pay for male and female players.

“It is clear that equal pay is the goal. But with similar revenues,” Watzke said.

Speaking to the daily tabloid Bild, Germany and Bayern Munich player Lena Magul called for a minimum wage for women players in the first and second divisions.

“We players should earn enough from the second division so that no one has to work part-time. We are talking about a minimum wage of 2,000 or 3,000 euros a month,” Magal said. “That’s how you can continue to drive the development of women’s football.”

Addressing the German football team in Frankfurt, German Football Federation President Bernd Neuendorf said that the efforts of the players at the 2022 Euros have inspired a new beginning for women’s football in the country.

“We experienced the end of a tournament on Sunday, but also the start of something big. We can all be happy about it,” Neuendorf said. “Of course, we hope to bring many women and young girls to football through this wonderful tournament.”

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