With a study in her master’s thesis, the former soccer player Lena Lotzen shows that players in the first and second division often cannot live on their salary.
Lena Lotzen is European champion, two-time German champion, cup winner. The former FC Bayern and SC Freiburg soccer player knows what she’s talking about when it comes to professional athletes. But not only because she experienced it herself, but also because Lotzen conducted a study on the careers of soccer players in the first and second leagues as part of her master’s thesis. Because the dual career is practically a must for the athletes.
Almost all players do something besides football
Whether they are studying, completing an apprenticeship or working in a profession – almost all of the players Lotzen interviewed are active outside of football. “Because unfortunately they can’t make a living from soccer” is exactly what is so important for female soccer players, she explains. Some players in the German and international top clubs earn enough, but there is a big gap between these two or three top teams in which this is possible and those below.
The fact that the players have to deal with the future during their active career is nothing new, according to the 28-year-old. However, they would like more and better care and support.
Second division players sometimes earn less than €500
One result of their study shows: 40 percent of the 202 players surveyed earn a maximum of 500 euros net from football, three quarters no more than 1,500 euros. Lotzen found out that the differences between the salaries in the first and second divisions are large. Female soccer players often earn less than €500 in the second division. “In some cases it’s not even possible to finance a room in a shared flat,” says Lotzen. So it would be logical that you have to pursue another profession.
With the results of her study, Lotzen is not trying to say that the most important thing is that the players need more money. Nor does it demand that women earn the same as men. “It’s about enabling the players to have an everyday life with good framework conditions where they can simply train professionally.”
Lotzen would like players to be able to focus on football and not have to pursue professional sport on the doorstep. However, she does not believe that it would make sense for the female athletes to no longer do anything on the side: “It must be aimed at creating better offers by having the university, work and training work better with the clubs”. Lena Lotzen believes that the association must also be taken along.
“There can be no professional football”
Today’s assistant coach for the women’s U17 national teams, in addition to the often inadequate opportunities for a dual career, also denounces the overall framework of women’s football. Even in the first league improvements are needed there.
Teams would have to “fight” with the clubs when they can train and “if they can somehow get half of the space there.” Under such conditions, with this lack of infrastructure, professional football cannot take place for Lotzen. Also because, for example, bad places increase the risk of injury.
This also leads Lotzen to the point of medical care. “I think a lot has developed in the last few years,” she explains. When she thinks back to her beginnings, Lena Lotzen remembers that the players taped themselves. Today, almost every Bundesliga club has a physiotherapist with them for every unit. Things are progressing, says Lotzen, but need to be further professionalized.
Football EM as a driver?
Due to the European Football Championship in the summer and the great attention that the German team received there, a few things could now improve. “The EM was a trigger,” says Lotzen. She hopes that the euphoria can be taken to the Bundesliga, that the interest is not just a snapshot. The increasing number of TV broadcasts is extremely important for the ex-soccer player.
She sees the fact that children can see role models on television as a big step forward, she saw herself at the Champions League final that girls wear soccer jerseys: “They no longer ran through the city with a Messi jersey, they really had Female footballers as role models.”
She didn’t experience it that way as a child, nor did she ever have the desire to become a footballer, because the public didn’t have that idea. She sees this new attention as a great opportunity for women’s football to become more professional and attractive.