Raising the bar for the entire continent, Germany's record of success in women's football has thrilled fans at home and inspired rivals to up their game.
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Germany's achievements in women's football speak for themselves: they are the most successful team in all three of UEFA's female national team competitions, not to mention their two FIFA Women's World Cup wins and 2016 Olympic gold, while their clubs between them have the largest number of European titles. The German Football Association (DFB) passed 1 million registered female players many years ago and the Frauen Bundesliga, running since 1990, set the standards which other nations' championships had to match. Their 22-year UEFA Women's EURO reign may have ended in 2017, but Germany's illustrious standing in the women's game endures.
Best UEFA competition performance
Senior: UEFA Women's EURO winners (1989, 1991, 1995, 1997, 2001, 2005, 2009, 2013)
Youth: UEFA Women's Under-18/U19 Championship winners (2000, 2001, 2002, 2006, 2007, 2011), UEFA Women's U17 Championship winners (2008, 2009, 2012, 2014, 2016, 2017, 2019, 2022)
Senior: FIFA Women's World Cup winners (2003, 2007), Women's Olympic Football Tournament winners (2016)
Youth: FIFA U-19/U-20 Women's World Cup winners (2004, 2010, 2014)
Women's football pioneer
Steffi Jones was at the heart of Germany's greatest era, securing multiple EURO and World Cup successes, as well as helping FFC Frankfurt clinch UEFA Women's Cup glory. She then went on to lead the 2011 Women's World Cup organising committee and coach Germany, having overcome racism and a tough upbringing.
"The only thing you feel is pride [at how women's football has grown]. We've really had to work hard to get here, and it's a pleasure to see what we have accomplished. I'm happy that teams get to play in such a setting. I get goosebumps and just really want to see more of that."
On the pitch…
A 22,000 sell-out crowd in Osnabrück, and a big television audience on ARD, watched Gero Bisanz's West Germany beat Norway 4-1 to win their first European title on 2 July 1989, catapulting the likes of Heidi Mohr, Doris Fitschen, Martina Voss and Silvia Neid to fame.
… and off it
Off the back of that Women's EURO breakthrough in 1989, the Frauen Bundesliga was launched in 1990, soon pioneering a greater professionalism and giving the world talents including Birgit Prinz, Inka Grings, Nadine Angerer and Alex Popp.
Germany's European reign was established by the start of the 21st century, but it was their World Cup victory of 2003 and follow-up triumph four years later that showed they could even dominate the likes of the United States. When Germany hosted the 2011 World Cup, the nations' main TV channels cleared their prime-time schedules. That crossed over into the club game, with more than 50,000 attending the 2012 UEFA Women's Champions League final in Munich, a record for the final that still stands.
Here and now
Junior/senior: Playing perspectives
We compare and contrast the experiences of players at the opposite ends of their careers as they reflect on their journeys and what is to come at this summer’s tournament.
Svenja Huth, 31, is a two-time UEFA Women’s Champions League winner and was a member of the Germany side that lifted the Women’s EURO in 2013. Jule Brand, 19, was just ten when that tournament happened and is appearing at her first senior international tournament.
Huth: "I didn’t play with the aim of becoming a Bundesliga or national team player, it was just that the sport was fun, I enjoyed the team mentality, playing with a team, fighting for each other, being there for each other and celebrating wins."
Brand: "When I was asked what I wanted to be when I grew up, I always said professional footballer. It was always what I dreamed of as a kid. I really started to believe in it over time."
Joining the game in Germany
Are you interested in playing women's football?
Find out how to play where you are with the help of #WePlayStrong.
"Trailblazers" is a unique exhibition that showcases the work of European artists given a blank canvas to celebrate women’s football. UEFA invited artists from participating nations in this summer’s tournament to create an image inspired by the game in their country. Germany's representative is Lisa Tegtmeier: "My idea was to visualise a magic moment in football, a breathtaking moment where both the players and the rest of the stadium can feel the energy and the passion for the game. I wanted to show the power of the player and how she is captured in this moment, full of joy and strength, like a heroine – because we need more female superstars in the world."
Investing for the future
German Football Association (DFB) women's football strategy
The German Football Association (DFB) published their Women in Football Strategy FF27 on 4 July, just ahead of the tournament. It looks forward to where the DFB wants the women’s game to be in five years’ time and aims to cover every facet of development.
The main goals of the strategy are:
* National teams and Bundesliga clubs to have won international titles
* A 25% increase in active female players, coaches and referees
* Women’s football media coverage across all platforms to have doubled
* Proportion of women on committees and in full-time management roles to be at a minimum 30%
Sabine Mammitzsch, DFB vice-president for women's and girls' football, said: "We want to develop in all of these areas, and we want to do it at our maximum capability and at all levels. We have already achieved a lot in recent years and will now be able to achieve even more on the basis of this strategy."
Women's Football Development Programme (WFDP)
Since 2010, UEFA's WFDP has provided associations with funding and tools to increase participation, improve standards and build infrastructure to help keep the female game growing. One example of a project funded by the WFDP programme in Germany is…
Leadership programme for women (2018–20)
A leadership programme for women identified potential female candidates for leadership positions on regional associations' committees and within the DFB, and helped them gain the necessary qualifications. It aimed to increase the number of women on football committees both nationally and regionally, build a network of female leaders and increase the number of female volunteers at clubs and regional associations.
Seven of the 24 participants in the leadership programme were elected onto committees at the DFB, while all participants were entrusted with positions on committees or other bodies at regional level. All 21 regional associations implemented leadership programmes for women.