BRISBANE – After Germany’s unprecedented elimination from the group stage of the 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup, there is no doubt that the country’s soccer in general, and its women’s game, in particular, are in deep crisis. Neither the hype from having reached the final of last summer’s Euros, nor the previous history of the senior female national team can distract from that fact any longer.
Germany Suffers Women’s World Cup Disaster After South Korea Draw
A downward trend for years
The truth is that after winning Olympic gold at the 2016 Games, Germany’s WNT has underperformed in nearly every competition they have played in. Finishing runners-up to England at their last European Championship, turned out to be the exception rather than the rule. After the gold medal success, longtime coach Silvia Neid stepped down. The German football federation (DFB) has struggled to find an adequate replacement, arguably to this day. they initially appointed former national team player Steffi Jones, to the job, with whom the team crashed out of the continental tournament to Denmark in the quarterfinals in 2017.
Following that, the DFB decided to hold onto Jones, until they saw qualification for the 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup in danger. When that became the case, they brought legendary former men’s youth team coach Horst Hrubesch, a novice to the women’s game, temporarily out of retirement to take the team over on an interim basis. The chemistry between Hrubesch and his players was by all accounts excellent and he helped them qualify with a minimum fuss. But due to his age and his family commitments, it was clear to everyone that Hrubesch would not be a long-term solution for the job.
Enter Martina Voss-Tecklenburg. She took over the Germany side ahead of that World Cup in France. The team did fairly well until they fell to Sweden in the quarterfinals. Even though this was not enough to qualify them for the Tokyo Olympics, the DFB chose to keep Voss-Tecklenburg in her position. That decision seemed to pay off, with the said good performance at the UEFA 2022 Women’s EURO. However, Voss-Tecklenburg and those in her inner circle will now have to at least answer some difficult questions after the team’s failure to get out of arguably the easiest group of this World Cup.
Without meaning to disrespect anybody, there is no excuse whatsoever for Germany to struggle in, let alone fail to advance altogether from a group featuring Morocco, Colombia, and South Korea. After all, this is a team that has far more quality on paper and a much greater history in the women’s game than any of its group opponents. The Germans are one of only four nations to have won the WWC. They are also the only country besides the United States to have done so more than once. Their openly-stated goal before the tournament was to win it again.
The beauty of soccer
But on the other hand, that is the beauty of soccer and of this tournament in particular. Nearly anybody can beat anybody at this point. That was not always the case in the women’s game. There surely would have been good money to be made for anyone who predicted that Brazil, Germany, Canada, and even lesser powers like China and Italy would be out at the group stage, while Switzerland, South Africa, Jamaica, Colombia, and Morocco would move on.
As for those giants of the game that barely advanced, such as the USWNT, or even Norway, the tournament now practically begins again. As long as you are still in, you can still win it!
Photo Credit: John Babiak. A poster of the Women’s World Cup logo ahead of the Germany South Korea match.