The Frauen-Bundesliga is an outlier in European soccer: a women’s league resuming during the coronavirus pandemic.
England and Spain have abandoned their seasons, even while the men’s leagues have plans to take to the field again in June.
Italy has also set a date to resume Serie A next month, but has left the fate of its women’s version hanging.
While government orders forced France to cancel all leagues, financial decisions in Europe’s other major footballing nations have seen female players miss out on playing again this season.
Regular testing of players for COVID-19 each week is required to create a safe training and playing environments, which racks up big costs.
The logistics and costs were prohibitive in England — home to Europe’s only fully professional women’s competition and the world’s richest men’s league.
But the German Football League, which oversees the top two divisions of the men’s game, has reportedly provided nearly $2 million sourced from leading men’s clubs to fund testing and other coronavirus-related costs in the Frauen-Bundesliga.
Leader Wolfsburg will play Cologne and FFC Frankfurt will host Sand on Friday, ending a three-month shutdown.
What has proved problematic is the need for teams to quarantine for seven days before the first game of the restart.
“There are a lot of players who have jobs and who have to take vacation now for that,” Freiburg and Israel defender Sharon Beck told German regional broadcaster SWR. “It doesn’t really seems to me that it’s about looking after our health, and that instead it’s just about keeping the sponsors from bailing out.”
Hoffenheim women’s coach Jürgen Ehrmann won’t be in the stadium for Saturday’s game against Bayern Munich on Saturday, a match which could be crucial in the club’s pursuit of a Champions League spot. Ehrmann cannot take time out from his main job as a teacher.
“The students are heading into their final exams,” he said, “and the personnel cover at our school is already very thin because of the current situation.”
Last-place USV Jena is not sure all of its players will be released to enter quarantine.
The German league used to be based on proudly independent but often cash-strapped women’s-only clubs, but over recent years it’s been increasingly dominated by wealthy clubs like Bayern or Wolfsburg where men’s football is the main focus.
Most of the national team squad still plays at home, but it’s no longer rare for top players to consider moves abroad as more European nations become competitive and potentially more financially rewarding.
Teams in England and Spain won’t be in action again until next season.
Real Betis player Priscila Borja it was “shameful” that there wasn’t even a significant proposal to try to resume the women’s league. The Spanish football federation denied any discrimination, saying all decisions were made with everyone’s health in mind.
The Women’s Super League in England is run by the Football Association while the men’s Premier League is a separate, wealthier entity.
While Liverpool is closing in on winning Premier League, it faces relegation from WSL as it sits in last place.
Liverpool told the FA it could have funded the protocols required to play during the pandemic but that was not possible across the WSL, which has attracted record crowds this season after England reached the Women’s World Cup semifinals.
“These are difficult decisions, Liverpool manager Vicky Jepson said, “and it’s obviously disappointing that the season is to end in this way.”
Brighton manager Hope Powell accepts why resuming the WSL is not feasible.
“There are substantial losses across the game,” said Powell, a former England coach. “The cost to get the testing equipment, the personal protective equipment, the medical staff in place to support the women’s game and the protocols is a huge cost that nobody could have ever foreseen.”