People & VIPs

"Soccer can also be abused"

Steffi Jones - the soccer born in Frankfurt am Main in 1972 is something of an icon with her successes, including with the German national team. Things didn't go quite ideally for Jones when she took on responsibility as a coach - but that's history. Today, the smart Jones deals with completely different topics and Style PASS had the opportunity to talk to her. And: Of course, it was still about soccer!

Style PASS: A global pandemic, parts of the world are ruled by dictators, there are discussions about hosting the 2022 World Cup in Qatar because of forced labourers. What role does soccer play in all this? Or what role do you think it should play?

Jones: Soccer is characterised by humanitarian values such as cohesion, respect or solidarity. Human rights should not be indifferent. I think it is good and important that teams or individual professionals take their role model function seriously and publicly show their stance. Also and especially when it comes to social issues and grievances.

Style PASS: You started in the first german women's national League in 1991. Was it already your dream as a little girl to play soccer or how did your career on the ball actually come about?

I used to play a lot with boys, even at the tender age of four. They needed a goal post when they kicked. At some point, the ball whizzed straight at me and I reflexively shot back. Who would have thought that this was the start of a very beautiful and formative soccer career?

Style PASS: Women's soccer has a lot of catching up to do, especially in (West) Germany: Until the 70s, women's soccer was not supported qua DFB decisions. How did you experience your career as an active female soccer?

I always kept in mind the humiliation my predecessors had to endure. Just imagine: You become European champion and are given a coffee set as a thank-you! That was back in 1989. Unfortunately, I also know prejudices and clichés. But I have never been interested in them. I only ever wanted to do better and help shape the further development of women's soccer On and off the pitch.

Style PASS: Your best moment as a female soccer?

My first international match at the 1993 European Championships in Italy. We were playing for third place against Denmark and were already trailing 1:3 at half-time. I had been sitting on the bench for the whole tournament and hoped I would still be allowed to play. After 60 minutes, Gero Bisanz substituted me. What an honour to play for Germany! I usually only watched the game on TV or sat on the bench. Suddenly I was in the thick of it, proudly wearing the jersey of the national team. An indescribable feeling.

Style PASS: After your active time, you continued with a career within the DFB. Did you feel that you could effectively support women's soccer here, also structurally?
support women's soccer here, also structurally?

Definitely. Helmut Sandrock, in particular, gave me strong support as General Secretary at the time. I was able to discuss things with him constructively and objectively, including structural needs. That had an effect and helped us enormously.

Style PASS: Your work as coach of the women's national soccer team. You received a lot of criticism here. How do you view your time as national women's soccer coach with some
with a little distance?

Even though I was often criticised and not always fairly reported on, I look back on this time positively. It was instructive in many respects. I am particularly grateful that I was able to build up a young team with talented players. That gave me a lot of pleasure.

Style PASS: Duchess Meghan just caused a stir when she reported on alleged discrimination she experienced at the British court as a woman with African-American roots during an interview with Oprah Winfrey. Do you have any experiences here that you would like to contribute to the topic of "discrimination"?

I cannot judge what happened with the British royals. The fact is, racism and discrimination are unfortunately still very present. Not only in everyday life, but also structurally. Even we in Germany can't say that it's different here. I know exclusion from personal experience. It is important not to look away or bury our heads in the sand. There are many people who live diversity, integration and understanding and are committed to it. This community and this cohesion strengthen my back.

Style PASS: Your father is US-American. How do you see the situation of the USA, or do you have a relationship with the USA through your father?

The USA is part of my biography. I have family there and played in the professional league for two years. My brother was an American soldier and lost both his legs in a terrorist attack in Iraq after a terrorist attack. I follow what is happening in the USA in terms of sport and socio-politics. But that's all.

Style PASS: Sport and politics, politics and sport, sometimes a fine line. Should soccer be political? Should soccers be more involved in socio-politics? How do you see that?

Soccer has enormous charisma. Professionals serve as role models and are almost always present in the media. They can be amplifiers for social issues, create visibility, move people. But there are limits. They start where governments instrumentalise sport and misuse it for their own purposes.

Style PASS: What are your plans for the future? Any project or commitment you want to share with Style PASS?

At the moment I am concentrating on my second career. As an organisational developer for a software company, it has nothing to do with soccer.

Questions: Eva Britsch

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