USA and Germany share hotel at Women's World Cup -- and much more

By Mike Woitalla

The Women's World Cup participants have pointed out another way in which FIFA treats them differently than the men. Besides having to play on artificial turf, opponents in Canada are sharing hotels.

“FIFA must by all means evolve,” said Germany coach Silvia Neid. “I believe this doesn’t meet the level of professionalism you should expect at a World Cup. You run into each other all over the hotel, stand together in the elevator, in the lobby.”

Awkward, it is, sharing a hotel with the team you’re about to face on the field -- and not so pleasant postgame, either.

“Even if you know and like each other, it's not easy always having to make small-talk,” said Neid. “It was especially uncomfortable after the quarterfinal, constantly encountering the sad French players. That makes one somehow sad, too."

For her part, U.S. coach Jill Ellis said: "The first day I almost walked into the German meal room. I don't know what's done on the men's side. That's a question for FIFA. Our first opponent Australia, their meal room was right next to ours. Is it ideal? You make it work."

Paul Kennedy: Scouting Report: USA must put foot on pedal to Germans

Indeed, fake grass or shared quarters, both teams face the same issues and it won’t impact who prevails in Tuesday’s semifinal between two teams that have lots in common -- including being among the first countries to support and embrace girls and women’s soccer.

In 1970, the German federation (DFB) declared females would be allowed to play organized soccer, overturning a 1955 ban. In 1989, Germany hosted and won the Women’s European Championship, sparking serious support for the women’s game.

In the 1970s, the youth soccer boom hit the USA. AYSO launched girls soccer in 1971. In the 1980s, the U.S. government began enforcing the 1972 Title IX gender-equity law, sparking a nationwide explosion of women’s college soccer programs.

Today, the USA and Germany lead the world in registered female players.

Both have won the Women’s World Cup twice. The USA in 1991 and 1999; Germany in 2003 and 2007. (Japan won in 2011 and Norway in 1995.)

At this World Cup, which they entered ranked No. 1 and No. 2, Germany and the USA are the only two teams in the semifinals -- or that reached the quarterfinals -- with female coaches. (Sixteen of this Women’s World Cup’s 24 teams have male coaches.)

In Hope Solo and Nadine Angerer, they field the world’s two top goalkeepers.

The winner of Tuesday’s semifinal has an excellent chance of becoming the first three-time winner. Germany blew its chance while hosting the 2011 World Cup when it exited in the quarterfinals to Japan. The USA fell to Japan in a penalty-kick shootout in the 2011 final.

At this World Cup, after an emphatic 4-1 round of 16 win over Sweden -- a team the USA played to a scoreless tie in group play -- the Germans struggled against France and needed a late penalty-kick equalizer and a shootout to prevail.

“Actually, France deserved to reach the next round,” said Ralf Kellerman, coach of the German club Wolfsburg, which won the 2013 and 2014 UEFA Women’s Champions League. “Especially in the first half, Germany was clearly inferior and France played technically at a world-class level that made the German defense look very bad.”

The USA, whose defense has compensated for an anemic attack, Kellerman said, “is not as skillful as the French but relies more on athleticism.”

Kellerman echoes how the Germans evaluate the Americans.

“The USA is a very strong opponent, an experienced team with individual talent. They are very athletic and prevail with their power,” said Angerer, a teammate of Alex Morgan and Tobin Heath on the Portland Thorns.

But Angerer’s description of the Americans would read just as accurately if it were said about the Germans.

These are two countries that had a head-start on the rest of world of women's soccer, that field superb athletes with vast experience in highly competitive situations. The edge on Tuesday should go to the team that has produced the most skillful and savvy players.

8 comments about "USA and Germany share hotel at Women's World Cup -- and much more ".
  1. R2 Dad, June 30, 2015 at 9:23 a.m.

    ...and supports the most advanced league at home.

  2. Bill Kinder, June 30, 2015 at 11:15 a.m.

    Good article, but one correction should be noted, girl's soccer was actually launched in Dallas, Texas in the late '60s and was the driver for decades.

  3. Raymond Weigand, June 30, 2015 at 11:58 a.m.

    I like the polite analysis: “is not as skillful as the French but relies for more on athleticism.” and “The USA is a very strong opponent, an experienced team with individual talent." A team with experience playing Athletic - Individuals.

  4. Raymond Weigand, June 30, 2015 at 12:09 p.m.

    @Bill ... probably the author notes AYSO as it is a National Program. And probably AYSO made it a National priority - as local Regions were already demonstrating how popular it was.

  5. Karl Schreiber, June 30, 2015 at 2:38 p.m.

    History of girls/women’s soccer as I remember it…
    During the sixties and seventies youth soccer grew at astonishing rates in the Far West Region (IV) of the USSF (initially mainly in Washington State and California), as well as in the Dallas area of Region III. The U.S. Youth Soccer Association (USYSA) was being organized and we decided that the FIFA Laws of the Game would accommodate girls play okay and that the age brackets for boys soccer would apply as well. The “Amy-Love-Case” in Northern California helped to accelerate the setup of girls’ soccer programs under the existing state youth soccer associations and USYSA on a separate-but-equal basis. These early decisions and developments aided in a steady growth of girls soccer nationwide under the auspices of USYSA/USSF, and - presumably – in the areas where AYSO was running programs. This was an important development way before Title IX that unfortunately has not received recognition in the extensive conversations in the Fox Soccer Studio during the current Women’s World Cup.

    I remember when attending the Far West Region Finals in 1983, Karl-Heinz Heddergott of Germany, who was then USSF Coaching Director, was ‘totally amazed’ about the state of development of our girls soccer program - more than twenty years ago.

    At about the same time in the late 70s and early 80s, when state youth associations were becoming more and more respected by the senior state associations, women soccer players were moving to establish representation for the ever-growing women’s soccer programs. I seem to remember that major initial steps were taken in that direction at the USSF AGM in Dallas in 1984.

  6. Kenneth Barr, July 1, 2015 at 12:18 a.m.

    The credibility of FIFA continues to sink like a rock. Not only have they put this tournament on a totally unacceptable playing surface, they nickle and dime the competitors by heaping indignity after indignity upon them. They can't afford two separate hotels for the top two teams in Women's International Football playing in what is supposed to be its premier tournament? Is the city of Montreal bereft of hotel rooms? This is just another example of FIFA's cynical and demeaning attitude towards these world class athletes, the best of the best, is staggering.

  7. Kent Pothast, July 1, 2015 at 6:27 p.m.

    This is nothing new. I was a Hotel Coordinator in Portland for the 2003 WWC. The USA team stayed at Hilton bur ALL other teams were at my hotel, the Sheraton. Did not have any problems with conflicts. About only problem was Christine Sinclair not finding her breakfast room.

  8. Kent Pothast, July 1, 2015 at 7:01 p.m.

    There have been comments about empty seats. In 2003 Portland sold out most games but there were empty seats because a large number of seats were for sponsors and various soccer organizations but few of those people bothered to journey to Portland, thus the empty, but spoken for, seats.

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