Borussia Monchengladbach U-23 coach Heiko Vogel was fined €1,500 for displaying unprofessional behavior towards referees during a match, but that is not the story here. The real issue is that Vogel has been forced to coach the women’s team for six sessions as so-called “punishment” by the Western German FA (WDFV). ESPN Germany correspondent Stephan Uersfeld broke this must-read story:
Borussia Monchengladbach's under-23 coach Heiko Vogel was ordered to train the women's team as a punishment for "unsporting behaviour," the West German FA confirmed to @uersfeld. https://t.co/XHT84eVxai— ESPN FC (@ESPNFC) March 17, 2021
While the women’s game does not carry the same clout with many supporters as the men’s game, using women’s football as punishment for a men’s coach shows an insane amount of disrespect, not only to the players, but women everywhere. Signals have been sent by the Western German FA that women’s football is not to be taken seriously, something to be seen as a chore instead of something to be proud of and enjoyed.
Football is the most popular sport in the world and with that comes the ability to make statements regarding equal opportunity. The platform provided to these associations is vast, and we only need to look at current marketing campaigns to see the messages that football is attempting to convey. Multiple leagues across Europe have continuously taken a stand to promote equal play, black lives matter, and football for everyone. Yet, on the heels of such an important time regarding equal treatment of individuals in our History as a planet, we still dismiss women.
One of the largest clubs in Europe, Borussia Dortmund has been a trendsetter for many clubs with how they approach their business in the transfer market. Choosing to develop some of the finest talents in Europe, Die Schwarzgelben have an eye for resale and maximizing value. However, it is only recently that the Ruhr giants have announced the formation of their first women’s football team, lagging behind many smaller clubs who have operated in the women’s division for years. This dismissal of the importance of women in the game serves as a hindrance for the messages that FIFA, UEFA, and each country’s FA is trying to send. Now, it has further complicated this idea by acting like coaching a women’s team is somehow a punishment and not an opportunity.
Just to be clear, Heiko Vogel did nothing wrong, or at least in the way he was punished. This is the failure of the WFDV, who choose to consider women’s teams as an afterthought. Maybe Vogel will enjoy coaching the women’s team, and perhaps he will learn something from all of this, the problem is that the narrative surrounding why the action of working with women in football is an appropriate discipline for negative behavior. Maybe one day we will treat everyone as equals, based on this story we still have a long way to go.