Home News archive German Women’s Football vs Heiko Vogel: Sexist punishment or Not?

German Women’s Football vs Heiko Vogel: Sexist punishment or Not?

Heiko Vogel of Borussia Monchengladbach was ordered to take charge of the club's women's team's training sessions as part of his punishment for abusing two female officials. It has angered Germany's top female stars.

Sexism Should Have No Place in Society, Not Even in Football

Every week football bodies and institutions tell us that they believe and strive towards inequality but every week they show us that they are rather major contributors to the problem. There is an elephant in the room that a lot of media/news houses have been avoiding. The story is simple enough. Heiko Vogel is the coach of Borussia Monchengladbach’s Under-23 side and he was displeased with the officiating of his side’s game and decided to have a go at the officials (two of the three were women). Fair enough, all for a good ol Fergie-type hairdryer. The former Bayern and Basel manager decided to go low with a very sexist argument. Maybe not Tucker Carlson bad but this guy went “ “women don’t belong on a football pitch”.

A 1,500 Euro fine and a two-game ban. But then something else came to life. Something about training the women’s team as “punishment” for his discriminatory remarks. Germany’s female football stars vented their fury at soccer bosses and through different outlets. Women are not punishment for bad behavior, nor therapy for disillusioned ones. The punishment looked even more sexist than the original comments. 

Nicole Selmer of the Frauen im Fussball (Women in football) network told ESPN that it was “sending a fatal message.” “It shows that at whatever level women and girls play football, they are not taken as seriously as men and boys,” Selmer said. “This punishment for the Gladbach coach puts coaching a women’s team on a level with social work. But it’s not like that. Women’s football is a sport, and those who participate in it are as professional as their male counterparts. “If you strip away everything and give it to them they have good intentions, it is still sending a fatal message, as coaching a women’s or girls’ team is part of a punishment for a misconduct.” she said.

The headline read that he was sentenced to coach the female team as punishment for his unruly behavior but he has come out to argue differently. “It was never my intention to propose this as a part of any form of punishment,” Heiko Vogel says. “I put it forward as a suggestion to show that I wanted to apologize to the girls and women playing football at Borussia,” Vogel claims he suggested it to the sports court of the West German soccer association (WDFV) when his case was being heard following his sexist comments to officials Vanessa Arlt and Nadine Westerhoff at a game involving his team on the 30th of January. 

So here is the thing. Apparently, during the hearing of his case, Vogel stated that he would like to take 6 women training sessions to show that he was sorry and when it was read in his judgment, it was read as an additional “punishment” Whether it is a silly mistake in optics or not, there is no need to further involve women when he has been insulting to two. Fine him, punish him, whatever but the decision to involve him with more women was ill-thought, especially when proposed as a “punishment”. We sure hope that Mr. Vogel can for now keep his mouth shut, learn his lesson, and serve as a warning of what is to come when we make discriminatory remarks.

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