ExclusiveFC Viktoria Berlin: "Giving visibility to women's football in Berlin and Germany" (Lisa Währer)
"Berlin, the capital of Germany, also wants to be the 'sports capital of Germany', but the fact is that we don't have any women's teams from the city in the Flyeralarm Frauen-BundesligaLisa Währer, co-founder and managing director of FC Viktoria Berlin (German women's third division), to News Tank Football on 22/09/2022.
"Sportingly, we want to be promoted quickly and join the second division, if possible by the end of the 2022-23 season, before we achieve our major goal of joining the top flight within five years," said Währer.
"We have devised an economic plan for the next five years. We may be in the third division at the moment, but the aim is to generate revenue and become profitable in the coming years. At the beginning of September 2022, we were only selling merchandising on matchdays. Since then, we have set up an online shop to sell our products. On 20/09/2022, we announced the arrival of 87 investors, for €1m," said Lisa Währer, who answered questions from News Tank Football.
"All six members of the board are women" (L. Währer, FC Viktoria Berlin)
How did the idea for the project come about?
The idea was born two years ago. Two of the founders, Katharina Kurz and Felicia Mutterer, had been talking to each other for a long time and felt that something should be done for women's football in Berlin. Then Angel City FC (Los Angeles, California) was founded in the United States, notably with the actress Natalie Portman. They found this project very inspiring and that it was something that should also be tried in Berlin.
Berlin, the capital of Germany, also wants to be the "sports capital of Germany", but the fact is that we don't have any women's teams from the city in the Bundesliga, so there is a big lack of visibility for women's football in the city. Katharina and Felicia started to expand their discussions, including with me. I immediately said I wanted to be part of this. The ambitious goal of FC Viktoria Berlin, currently in Germany's third division, is to give visibility to women's football, women's sport, in Berlin and in Germany.
Angel City FC: project launched in July 2020 for a competitive debut in 2022-23
• In July 2020, the Los Angeles-based Angel City Football Club (ACFC) project was officially presented.
• The franchise was founded by actress Natalie Portman and investors Kara Nortman, Julie Uhrman and Alexis Ohania.
• Angel City FC is a member of the National Women's Soccer League (NWSL), in which it has played since the start of the 2022-23 season.
• Tennis players Serena Williams and Billie Jean King, actresses Jessica Chastain and Eva Longoria, and skier Lindsey Vonn are among the club's shareholders.
• The club has several renowned partners, such as Klarna, Crypto.com and Heineken.
Who are the founders, board members, of the club?
Ariane Hingst - former German international, 2-time World Cup winner & 4-time Euro winner - a co-founder
All six members of the board, including myself, are women. There is Katharina Kurz, founder and managing director of the BRLO brewery in Berlin. She is one of the few women in the beer industry. There is also Felicia Mutterer, a sports journalist with 20 years of experience in the world of sports, always committed to diversity. She is the managing director of Achtung! Broadcast, a regional press and podcast production agency.
Then there is Tanja Wielgoss, CEO until September 2022 of Vattenfall Berlin, a subsidiary of the Swedish electricity company, and Verena Pausder, an experienced investor who accompanies numerous companies, particularly in digital education.
Finally, there is Ariane Hingst, a former German international, two-time World Cup winner and four-time Euro winner. She is from Berlin and always wanted to play for a club in her city, but it was never possible because the city never had a club of a high enough level.
How did you contact FC Viktoria to present your project?We looked for women's clubs from D3 upwards and were advised to talk to Viktoria Berlin
Once we had the initial idea, we had to make it real. We called on our network in football, particularly in Berlin. We inquired about the clubs that might be interested in our project. An important criterion was that we did not want to create a new club, which would have meant starting at the lowest level, in the seventh division.
We looked for women's clubs from the third division upwards. We were advised to talk to FC Viktoria 1889 Berlin, because the club likes to try new things and think outside the box. It took an open-minded club to accept us coming in and taking over the whole team with our own board.
The organisation of women's football in Germany
• The two top divisions for women in Germany are the 1.Bundesliga (12 teams) and the 2.Bundesliga (14 teams). They are organised by the DFB(German Football Association).
• The third tier consists of five regional leagues, which have varying numbers of teams.
• The winner of the Southern League is promoted directly to the second division. The other four champions qualify for a play-off, and the two winners advance to the second division (provided they are not a reserve team of a club already playing in the 2.Bundesliga).
How are the links between FC Viktoria and this women's team structured?We are in daily contact with FC Viktoria
In Germany, there is the club and the trading company, which is separate from the club. We created the FC Viktoria Berlin women's commercial company, but the club still retains a decision-making majority.
So the club always has the final say. We are in daily contact with FC Viktoria. Especially concerning the women's youth team, which is not part of our entity. We want to strengthen the link between the two teams and attract as many young players as possible to the club. Together we want to become a success story in German football.
Ownership of clubs: the special case of the so-called “50+1” rule
• While the other four countries in the European Top 5 have seen foreign investors acquire many of their professional clubs in recent years, Germany has a characteristic protectionist regulation: the so-called "50+1 rule."
• The "50+1" rule, introduced in 1998, gives the association the majority of voting rights (50% + 1%) in the club. It is enshrined in the DFL statutes and is one of the criteria for the awarding of a professional license to compete in the Bundesliga or 2.Bundesliga.
• There is, however, an exception: a shareholder may acquire a majority share in the capital and greater voting rights if it has "provided continuous and substantial support for the football department of the association for more than 20 years," according to the German League's statutes.
• There has been an ongoing debate in Germany for several years as to whether or not to maintain this rule, which, according to its opponents, is an obstacle to the development of German clubs.
Is it a 100% women's club?We are looking for women's capital
No, because we got the technical team back from last year. We looked for a female coach, but could not find a woman for the role as the few good coaches are already in place.
With the beginning of the season approaching, we decided to postpone this for one or two seasons and now have a male coach, employed full time.
What are the project's principles?
On the one hand we have the six members of the board who are women. We are looking for investors to support this project, and we are looking for women's capital. 50% of the money we receive must come from women.We wanted a wide variety of investors, and we succeeded
In the funding round we just completed, we were actually over 60%. We didn't want two, three, four big investors, but a wide variety of investors, so that we are not too dependent on a few. We wanted a wide variety of investors, and we succeeded. And they are all private individuals.
On 20/09/2022, we announced 87 investors, for €1m. Among these investors, Olympic swimmer Franziska van Almsick is joining the supervisory board. Other personalities include former skier Maria Höfl-Riesch, comedian Carolin Kebekus, choreographer Nikeata Thompson, journalist Dunja Hayali and investor Lea-Sophie Cramer.
In addition, StepStone, a German recruitment platform, has become our main shirt sponsor, while Douglas (perfumery, GER) is now the second main partner and our sleeve sponsor.
What are the club's economic levers?There are too few women on the boards of Bundesliga clubs
We have devised an economic plan for the next five years, with the hope of being in the Bundesliga by then. We may be in the third division at the moment, but the aim is to generate revenue and become profitable in the next few years. At the beginning of September 2022, we were only selling merchandising on matchdays. Since then, we have set up an online shop for the sale of our products (shirts and clothing).
Regarding TV rights, RegionalLiga is not broadcast, so we don't receive any revenue. But it will be a source of revenue in the future.
Does your project have a social and political aim?
Yes, that was the case from the start. In Berlin, women's sport lacks visibility. Equal pay in general, and not just in football, is still a hot topic, as is the visibility of women, and the fact that there are too few women on the boards of Bundesligaclubs. Our goal is to give women the visibility they deserve.
Is the city of Berlin reacting positively to this news?All our players earn a small income from the club alongside their work
Yes, Mayor Franziska Giffey (SPD) spoke at the launch. She supports us and it fits in with the image of Berlin as a very open, multicultural and inclusive city.
Which stadium do you play in?
We play in the Lichterfelde district of Berlin, in the Stadion Lichterfelde. It's a very old stadium, listed as a historical monument, with a capacity of 4,300 spectators.
What are the club's short and long term goals?
From a sporting point of view, we want to be promoted quickly and, if possible, reach the second division by the end of the 2022-23 season. Before we achieve our major goal of joining the top flight within five years.
Structurally, we want to improve the team with good training facilities. We now have a full-time sporting director and all our players earn a small income from the club alongside their work. It's already very impressive for the women's third division.We also want to bring more women to the stadium
Finally, in terms of visibility, we would like to welcome many spectators, as was the case in our second match of the season, in the German Cup, against Union Berlin (2-1 defeat) with almost 500 spectators.
We need to make as much noise as possible and generate visibility for our team and women's football in general. We also want to bring more women to the stadium. We are not only doing this for ourselves, not only for our club, but for women's sport as a whole.