Women’s Bundesliga: A league to depart?

Felicitas Rauch’s departure from Wolfsburg to affix North Carolina Courage within the US was a shock. That it got here every week after Bayern Munich’s Lina Magull left to affix Inter Milan was a shock. Two seasoned Germany internationals have left their homeland for the prospect to play overseas. But are the strikes an indication of a much bigger shift in ladies’s soccer or simply two gamers on the lookout for one thing new?

When Pernille Harder and Magdalena Eriksson joined Bayern Munich initially of the season, not solely did the ladies’s Bundesliga look set for one more thrilling title race however it additionally appeared Germany’s prime league was changing into a extra widespread place to play. Georgia Stanway had joined simply in the summertime earlier than and instantly the Women’s Super League (WSL) in England was not only a league Bundesliga gamers left to affix but additionally arrived from.

With the brand new media rights deal arriving this season that noticed round $5.4m (€4.9m) anticipated per yr, a 16-fold enhance, the newly named Google-Pixel Frauen Bundesliga seemed destined for it is largest season but — even when it nonetheless did not have its personal social media channels and the scheduling was just a little unusual.

2024: a yr of change?

Fast ahead to January 2024, and the image seems to be just a little completely different. Granted, the title race continues to be as thrilling as ever however each Bayern and Wolfsburg, two golf equipment who stay amongst Europe’s elite, have extra occurring within the departure column of their switch enterprise than the arrival one.

Bayern, who not too long ago noticed Maximiliane Rall go away to affix the Chicago Red Stars, signing 36-year-old Swedish legend Linda Sembrant on mortgage was extra of a essential increase to a depleted defensive unit reasonably than a giant splash. Wolfsburg have solely made one signing, defensive prospect Diana Nemeth.

With the National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL) sealing a $60m (€55m) a yr media rights deal within the USA (40x greater than the earlier one) final yr, and the WSL in England on the verge of a brand new deal anticipated to be a lot larger than the present one (reportedly simply shy of $10m/€9m per season), the Bundesliga’s new deal instantly seems to be paltry within the huge image. Without the funding of males’s golf equipment, stand-alone ladies’s groups in Germany are having a more durable job of surviving.

Furthermore, one look on the checklist of the brand new signings within the US and the UK this January is a reminder of what even Bayern and Wolfsburg are fighing towards. Just days earlier than the league restarted after the winter break, “The Telegraph” reported that Chelsea’s Jessie Fleming was set to signal for the Portland Thorns for a league report charge of almost €300,000.

Perhaps it is also simply two gamers who needed one thing completely different of their profession and now that ladies’s soccer has lastly developed sufficient internationally such strikes are extra possible. As Rauch not too long ago advised “Kicker” in interview, “it’s not just England, Barcelona or Lyon” as selections nowadays. The 27-year-old leaves Wolfsburg after two league titles and, following an harm, is seeking to regain her kind and place within the nationwide facet. Magull leaves Bayern after over 100 apperances and two league titles, and given the midfielder has performed in Germany for 15 years, a change feels completely justifiable.

German soccer identification: Celia Sasic

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But it is also exhausting to flee some sense of Germany’s league falling behind. After Euro 2022, there was a need for the nationwide group’s run to the ultimate to switch into lasting change. With the arrival of a brand new sponsor and extra groups investing within the ladies’s recreation, a few of that change has already come, however the league continues to be enjoying catch up. Although better visibility is a extra urgent difficulty, some big-name arrivals to spice up the Bundesliga’s place in world soccer would actually assist, notably after a poor World Cup exhibiting in Australia and New Zealand. In the meantime, the league should hope its soccer can do sufficient speaking.

Edited by: James Thorogood