Exactly six months ago the biggest female tournament in European football history concluded with Japan lifting the FIFA Women's World Cup in Frankfurt, after an event in Germany watched by 845,711 fans over 32 games – including a continental record 73,680 for the official opener between the hosts and Canada at Berlin's Olympiastadion. Heike Ullrich, head of the German Football Association (DFB) women's and girls' football department, looks back at the tournament and forward to May's UEFA Women's Champions League final in Munich.
UEFA.com: Six months have passed since the staging of the Women's World Cup; how do you reflect on the tournament now?
Heike Ullrich: We are still proud of hosting that amazing event in Germany and we learned a lot from it. We learned that we can touch people all over the country with women's football – and that was the best message we could send out, even if we couldn't make it to the final. We sold out stadiums for the semis and for the final, and that was just amazing for women's football in general. You still feel the spirit – people are still involved and touched by women's football, and we see it with the numbers at the stadiums, for example for women's club competitions. It has raised the number of spectators there around 40%.
UEFA.com: In May the UEFA Women's Champions League final as well as the men's decider come to Munich; how are people looking forward to these occasions?
Ullrich: Germany is already crazy about these two Champions League finals taking place in Munich in May. And for women's football it's a new chance, a year after the World Cup, to have a fantastic event. Personally, I was happy with the draw as it's possible to have two German teams in the women's final, and as a German I can say that it would be nice to have this outcome! Of course it's still a big challenge to fill a huge capacity stadium which we will have for the women's final, and we will try to do our best so we are good hosts for these two teams that then also give their best on the pitch. And again, the branding from UEFA is fantastic – I personally like it, I love it.
UEFA.com: You have raised the bar so high with the Women's World Cup, and we know you will do the same for the Women's Champions League. How can you transfer that to the Frauen Bundesliga and the grassroots?
Ullrich: The development of grassroots women's football and the Bundesliga is a step-by-step process, achieved between the federation and the clubs. So every step we define for the clubs and the Frauen Bundesliga is pre-discussed with the clubs. Of course, we try to make these steps as big as possible, but also not too big, to avoid losing teams because they can't manage to reach that high. But we have to bother them a little bit, and always give them challenges, so they see they too have to improve and they do, fortunately, so there's quite a good relationship.
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