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During women’s EM in England: ex-DFB ace reports on experiences of sexism

Former national player Julia Simic experienced sexism several times during her time as a young footballer.

“Before the games I always had to put in a lot of negative, sometimes discriminatory comments,” she said in the documentary “Unstoppable” about women in professional sports on the streaming platform “DAZN”: “Back then it was something special that nobody really dealt with it could.”

Sexism is “deeply anchored in society” and a long-term problem that “of course does not stop at sport”. Nowadays, “there is no longer any way around women’s or girls’ football,” said Simic: “Clubs have now understood that women have to be given better conditions and the resources to represent the club really well internationally.”

As a teenager, she even had her hair cut short “because I wanted to be seen as completely normal”.

Simic only had male role models

She wasn’t even allowed to play for some teams. “The NLZ in particular didn’t want to take on girls at the time because they would take a place away from the boy, the potential professional footballer,” said Simic.

Her role models were all male. “I saw the full stadiums and had no female role models, they were Matthäus, Sammer, Zidane, Figo,” said Simic: “I tried to copy their tricks. At some point I wanted to play in front of many thousands of spectators.”

The first half of the two-part documentary has been on DAZN since Wednesday evening shortly before the start of the Women’s European Championship in London. In addition to Simic, former boxing world champion Regina Halmich, national basketball player Alina Hartmann and UFC fighter Mandy Böhm talk about their experiences with sexism, marketing pressure and self-determination as well as the compatibility of career and family planning.

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