Stimulating greater equality

Marlie Sänger is, in addition to her job at Commerzbank, the captain of the successful club FC Viktoria Berlin. She is concerned with much more than just women's football.

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Sabine Ostrowicki

Commerzbank

The footballers around Marlie Sänger cheer after their goal.
Marlies Sänger (number 18) scores for FC Viktoria Berlin. The team is on its way to changing women's football in the long term. Copyright: Michael Romacker
Six founders want to lead the women's team of FC Viktoria Berlin into the First Bundesliga and thus ensure more equal opportunities in sport. Commerzbanker Marlies Sänger experiences the spirit of optimism as captain up close – and feels the first changes.

There is a huge response in the press and on social media: In the summer of 2022, six founders led by former international player Ariane Hingst took over the women's team of FC Viktoria Berlin with the announcement that they wanted to change women's sport sustainably, this hit a nerve. Within a very short time, they receive prominent support. 87 investors, including well-known personalities such as Maria Höfl-Riesch, Carolin Kebekus and Dunja Hayali, are investing a total of one million euros in the team. Well-known sponsors such as Stepstone and Douglas are won and the two-time swimming world champion Franziska van Almsick is appointed to the supervisory board.

Since then, Marlies Sänger has also been addressed more and more frequently. "I receive emails from colleagues or I am called if I want to receive newspaper articles about the in-house post," says the Senior Business Account Manager from Berlin. In addition to her main job at Commerzbank, she leads the now nationwide known women's team as captain – and experiences the media-effective project up close. "But that's not a PR gag," the player stresses. "This is about a social change and I'm super happy to be there."

"This is about a social change."

The center-back has been playing football since she was ten years old. The 27-year-old tells us that her uncle always took her to games. Finally, she started kicking at the Lichtenrader BC herself, first with the boys, then with the girls as of the D-youth. Since 2011 she has been playing for Viktoria Berlin in the Regionalliga Nordost. The team from Berlin-Lichterfelde has hardly been the focus of public attention until the six founders approached the club with the idea of moving it into the 1 within the next five years. Bundesliga. After all, the capital has not yet been represented in women's football. This is to change – and with it the perception of sport.

The framework conditions in women's football improved

"In the beginning, we were also a little skeptical about whether this would really be implemented in this way," says Marlies Sänger. "But it is impressive what the women have set up." Initially, the team was spun off into a GmbH and is now being built up as a brand of its own. For the first time, the players will receive an expense allowance. Overall, the general conditions have improved significantly.

"We can now train several times on grass courts and not just on artificial turf," says the captain. There is support from a physiotherapist and a team doctor. The squad could also be expanded. Numerous investors come to the stadium and support the team visibly and audibly. Sport 1 already broadcast a game on free TV, with more to follow.

"Of course, it would have been nicer if it had happened ten years ago," admits Marlies Sänger. Then perhaps more could have been possible for her sporting career. However, it is still difficult for women to make enough money with professional football. StepStone, the main sponsor of the team, takes up this vividly in a recent advertisement: "A game takes 90 minutes. And women earn 85 percent less than men," it says.

Pleasure about sponsorship

However, Marlies Sänger have always been interested in financial topics, so she did an internship at the bank and later a dual course of study. As committed as she is in sports, she now advises her customers, which are small and medium-sized companies in Berlin. And she is pleased that Commerzbank is sponsoring the women's national team. "That makes me a bit proud."

She trains four times a week. An away match is scheduled every second weekend. As a regular player with a wealth of experience, she takes on an important leadership role in the team – and also ensures goals with her header strength. "I want to accompany the path as long as I can," she says. "The 2. I can still imagine the Bundesliga."

She has played with the club for one season. But without the necessary support, the team quickly relegated. That looks different now. And the motivation is great. "But I hope that we will not only benefit from the change as Victoria, but that it will be sustainable," says the captain. "If women want to play football, they should have the same chances everywhere."

Portrait Marlies Sänger

Marlies Sänger

Senior Corporate Account Manager

Marlies started in 2014 with a dual course of study in the private and corporate banking sector at Commerzbank. She then studied Business Administration in a Master's degree. Marlies has been active in the business customer segment since 2019 – as a senior business customer advisor since autumn 2021. In parallel, she has been playing football in the Regionalliga Northeast since 2011 in the 1. Women of FC Viktoria Berlin 1889.

FC Viktoria Berlin

The Berlin women's regional football league team belongs to the club FC Viktoria 1889 Berlin. In July 2022, the area of 1. Women's teams outsourced as a GmbH. It is initiated, founded and managed by the six founders Ariane Hingst, Verena Pausder, Tanja Wielgoß, Felicia Mutte-rer, Katharina Kurz and Lisa Währer. The aim is to drive forward a change in German football in addition to sporting successes.

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