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World class: women's international Birgit Prinz Photo: ddpWorld class: women's international Birgit Prinz

Golz asks ... Birgit Prinz

Friday, March 31, 2006

The well known sports journalist Wolfgang Golz regularly asks prominent footballers, managers, fans and experts about their expectations for the 2006 World Cup in Germany. On this occasion he is talking to the women's international Birgit Prinz about the strength of women's football and the chances of her male colleagues winning the World Cup title.

Mrs Prinz, the first question in this series of interviews is, as always: Why will Germany win the 2006 World Cup?
Birgit Prinz: Who says they'll win?
Why not?
Well, every side in the competition has a chance. Germany too. If they start well and get the public behind them the team can develop a strength which you couldn't imagine from the individual make-up of the side.
What made you become a footballer?
I've always done a lot of sport. My father was a good footballer and he coached me for a while. However, I also went swimming, trampolining and did athletics. I reached a point where there were too many competitions at the same time so I had to make my choice.
Have you ever regretted this particular choice of sport?
When I see athletes train I realise that there is more variety in our game. And I'm more suited to team sports.
You've already been World Women's Footballer of the Year three times. If a man did that he'd be rolling in money.
I wouldn't want to swap places. Of course, I wouldn't object to having a couple of million in the bank but money isn't everything. This way I've got more of a private life which I value very highly. Thank God the celebrity thing isn't that extreme!
After the World Cup win in 2003, if not before, women's football gained real recognition in our country.
We earned that. We play predominately attractive and successful football. A lot of people have watched us play and then had to revise their opinions. It's only fair that we get that recognition.
Michael Ballack, your fellow captain in the men's team, rates women's football highly and is sorry that you still have such a hard job getting sponsors.
If we compare ourselves with the men, which we don't want to, then the financial side of things certainly isn't fair. But if you look at other sports and see the performances they produce then we are well off.
Are your colleagues in the Germany men's team having an even harder time at the moment?
That's not a new phenomenon but the fact that the World Cup is being held here  brings things to a head. But players and coaching staff should know all about that in principle. If you are a celebrity and earn so much then things aren't always positive. You have to take the rough with the smooth. But I think they'll work hard to do well.
Can you imagine yourself doing Jürgen Klinsmann's job coaching the national team?
I don't see myself ending up in that position. As long as I am playing football I can't ever imagine a woman in that role. It's not a very attractive proposition either. People would only look on me as a woman; not at my training methods but only my gender. I wouldn't put myself in that position.
You always stress the paramount importance of the team. Why do you always object so strongly to being put in the role of a star player, which you are?
It's a fact that there are eleven people on the pitch. You can still win even if the superstar has a bad game. But a superstar is nothing without the team. And I don't like the star cult status that some players have.
Does the huge amount of money in professional football spoil the fun of playing the game?
No, I don't think so. It would be much better if the money was more evenly distributed in our league then the league wouldn't be top heavy. Of course, that wouldn't be bad for me either. But I'll never face the problem of having a guilty conscience because of money.
Have you got any World Cup tickets yet?
Yes I got two from the DFB (German Football Association). As members of the Women's World Cup team we could choose tickets for two games. That's only fair, isn't it?
And which games are you going to see?
The big match here in Frankfurt between Holland and Argentina is one.
And, apart from the sporting side of things, what do you expect from the World Cup?
I hope and wish for an attractive and colourful World Cup, good games and a great atmosphere. Peaceful and simply beautiful. That would be important for Germany.
Birgit Prinz was born on 25 October 1977. She is the most successful women's footballer in the world. She has already been voted Women's Footballer of the Year three times (2003 to 2005). The star striker was top scorer and World Cup winner at the 2003 tournament. She made her debut for the national side at the age of 16 and she was already a World Cup runner up at 17. She won the European Championships four times and has twice won an Olympic bronze medal. In 2002 she won the UEFA Cup with her club, 1. FFC Frankfurt, the German Cup seven times (1995, 1996 with FSV Frankfurt, 1999-2003 with 1. FFC Frankfurt) and the German League title seven times (1995, 1998 with FSV Frankfurt, 1999, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2005 with 1. FFC Frankfurt). She has 148 international caps, scoring 92 goals.

Supporter of the Cameroonian national team, underneath: numerous German flags and fans