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A women’s Euro “rewarding for the players”

The competition is in full swing in England, in well-stocked stadiums, with a great atmosphere. Elodie Martins, Racing Union Luxembourg player, talks about this enthusiasm and the recent evolution of her sport.

Soccer

Pascal MITTELBERGER

The competition is in full swing in England, in well-stocked stadiums, with a great atmosphere. Elodie Martins, Racing Union Luxembourg player, talks about this enthusiasm and the recent evolution of her sport.

This Thursday evening, the Franco-Belgian duel of the Women’s Euro Football turned to the advantage of the Blues by beating the Red Flames 2-1. The French team has already secured a place in the quarter-finals. As has been the case since the beginning of the competition in England, the meeting aroused the enthusiasm of the many public present in the stands of the Rotherman stadium. Elodie Martins, French player for Racing Union, a club which outrageously dominates the Luxembourg championship, appreciates this enthusiasm.


England's midfielder Georgia Stanway (L) vies with Austria's midfielder Laura Feiersinger (C) during the UEFA Women's Euro 2022 Group A football match between England and Austria at Old Trafford in Manchester, north-west England on July 6, 2022. (Photo by FRANCK FIFE / AFP) / No use as moving pictures or quasi-video streaming.  Photos must therefore be posted with an interval of at least 20 seconds.

The kick-off of the Women’s Euro was given this Wednesday evening at Old Trafford. The English scored the first goal of this competition.


What impression do you leave with these first matches of the Women’s Euro, and in particular the enthusiasm it creates among the public?

Elodie Martins – “This Euro has already made it possible to pass a course. When I see the stadiums full, it’s wonderful for women’s football! Despite the last few months which have been affected by the covid, there is a craze that has existed for some time and it is confirmed with this competition. Playing in such beautiful stadiums attracts the public and it is rewarding for the players.

What do you expect from the France team, which has just qualified for the quarter-finals, during this Euro…?

“Already, we must remember the extraordinary first half achieved by the French, in all compartments of the game, during their first match against Italy (the score was 5-0 at the break, editor’s note). I was impressed! Afterwards, on the ambitions of the team, I would like to see them in the final, that’s for sure, and that they finally bring back a title. But there are other big nations like Germany, Spain… But to be in the last four is, in my opinion, the minimum objective for France.

We feel it in this competition but do you also believe that there is a homogenization of the level of women’s football, both at the Euro and in general?

“It’s clear. Just take the example of England: five or six years ago, they were not as successful, whether in selection or club, as today. A team like Portugal is also on the rise and manages to get results. Women’s football is booming in many countries, it has nothing to do with what we knew 10 or 15 years ago.

You can’t perform well with girls who come to train after an 8-hour day of work.

Elodie Martins, Racing Union Luxembourg

What is it due to?

“Professional clubs have started to bet on women’s teams and have provided the means. The training conditions have also evolved. You can’t perform well with girls who come to train after an 8-hour day of work. The professionalization of certain championships has made it possible to move to another level.

And Luxembourg women’s football in all this, where is it?

“There is a bit of a delay but it’s a small country, we mustn’t forget that. There are not many licensees, there are only three divisions in the championship. Above all, there are very few foreign women. The clubs are only beginning to open up and recruit them. This is what causes the level to increase. Afterwards, even if I put Racing aside because it has been providing means for girls for several years, each club tries to do with its means to have a feminine image too. Over the years it will get better. It’s a chain.

But isn’t this situation, with Racing ultra-dominant at national level, penalizing?

“It’s true that when I arrived from FC Metz four years ago, it shocked me a bit. Today, in French D1, we no longer see river scores as we still see in Luxembourg. For me, the rule of seven ”1st license”, namely the fact of being obliged to field seven Luxembourg women who started football in Luxembourg in each match, was a small obstacle to the progress of women’s football in the country, especially for clubs playing in the European Cup. Last season, things have already evolved a little with five “1st license”, and a more global reform is underway.


Alexandre Luthardt, Racing Luxembourg coach / Foto: Stéphane Guillaume

The capital club should be crowned this Saturday evening after a faultless game that does not benefit anyone.


You were talking about the European Cup: on August 18, a big deadline awaits Racing with a meeting against Juventus Turin, in Italy, during the first preliminary round of the Women’s Champions League. Isn’t this an opportunity to highlight women’s football in Luxembourg?

“It is sure that it is a beautiful poster! It won’t be easy, let’s not kid ourselves, they are one step ahead of us. But we will not go to Italy lowering our heads and arms even before the match. We have goals, it will not be a week of vacation. But it’s good for the girls: playing against Juventus doesn’t happen often in life! We will have to play, but above all “kiffer” the moment!

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