After claiming bronze at last year’s Women's Olympic Football Tournament in Beijing on her 149th appearance for Germany, playmaker Renate Lingor brought down the curtain on her distinguished playing career. Now deeply involved in preparations for the FIFA Women's World Cup 2011™ as an Ambassador and member of the Organising Committee’s Cities and Stadiums section, Lingor spoke about her new role, and the forthcoming international clash between Germany and Brazil at the Frankfurt World Cup Arena on 22 April.
Renate Lingor, you became a FIFA Women’s World Cup 2011 Ambassador in May 2008, and you’re also involved with the Organising Committee’s Cities and Stadiums section. Are you enjoying the new challenge, or do you miss playing?
I’m really enjoying myself. I know it’s hard to believe, but I really don’t miss playing at all for now. I have two completely contrasting roles, so there’s plenty of variety in what I do for the OC. It’s not as if I’m stuck in the office every day, I get to travel a lot as a World Cup Ambassador. What I like most of all are the autograph signings, interviews, and training sessions with kids. But I’m also really happy as a member of the Cities and Stadiums section, where I’m proactively involved in organising the World Cup.
What are your department’s priorities at the present time?
We co-ordinate all the activity at various levels related to the Host Cities and Stadiums. We’re aiming for a totally smooth-running tournament, covering everything from security arrangements, media facilities and signage. At the moment, we’re heavily involved in planning the cities’ supporting event programmes before and during the World Cup.
How’s the response been from the cities?
I never thought the World Cup cities would be so committed with two and a half years still to go. We’ve seen for ourselves just how much they’re looking forward to it, both during Steffi Jones’s inaugural visits in the autumn and at the Countdown evening in Sinsheim. You sense that a number of our cities regard the World Cup as a unique opportunity to stake a place on the world footballing map. I’m certain this sense of anticipation will be reflected in sales when tickets are made available in autumn 2009.
What are the OC’s other priorities at the moment?
We need to fan the flames of this passion for the World Cup and ensure the tournament is immaculately organised. We can’t simply assume the World Cup will be a success in 2011, as not everyone’s fallen in love with the women’s game yet. If we succeed in instilling a passion for women’s football in fans and families, it’ll be an important contribution towards continuing the sport’s development. We have to use this specific platform to help the game make sustained and continuous progress.
Germany and Brazil, two giants of the world game, cross swords on 22 April at the Arena in Frankfurt. You never faced the Canarinhas on German soil. Would you like to have done?
This is definitely the one match for which I’d actually pull on my boots again, especially because it’s here in Frankfurt, where I have all my family and friends. And what can you say about Brazil, one of the most attractive teams in women’s football with any number of outstanding players. A lot of prestige is at stake and both teams will be determined to win. It’s bound to be exciting, and I’ll definitely be there in person.
Quite apart from winning the match, the German FA has publicly set itself the target of beating the existing attendance record for a women’s international in Europe. Looking at it from an organisational point of view, is the meeting with Brazil a dress rehearsal of sorts for the World Cup?
A classic contest such as Germany versus Brazil simply deserves a worthy setting. We want to beat the women’s attendance record just to show what a fantastic atmosphere we can expect at the 2011 World Cup. After all, our aim is capacity crowds at the 2011 finals. It’ll be a cracking clash at the Frankfurt World Cup Arena, and it’ll certainly provide a foretaste of 2011.
German Women’s Bundesliga fixtures rarely attract crowds of more than 1,000. How is the OC planning to fill the stadiums at the World Cup?
A World Cup on your doorstep is undoubtedly special. You don’t often get the opportunity to watch the best women’s teams in the world in such fantastic stadiums. And let’s not forget the high regard for the women’s national team here in Germany. This is our first chance to claim the World Cup on home soil, and experience the unique atmosphere of the tournament at close hand. Going to the matches will definitely be worth it.
What is the significance of the FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup 2010?
We regard the U-20 Women’s World Cup 2010 both as a tournament in its own right, and as a test run for the 2011 finals. Obviously, we’re also aiming to fill the stadiums in 2010. There are some outstanding players at the U-20 level, and they’ll all be attempting to stake a claim for the following year. Last year’s U-20 World Cup in Chile showed that this tournament can also be a terrific festival of football.
Which of the current U-20 crop do you think have a genuine chance of the breakthrough in 2011?
I rate Bianca Schmidt, Nicole Banecki, Kim Kulig and the Kerschowski sisters [Isabel and Monique] as excellent players with a great chance of breaking into the senior set-up. Obviously, they all need to continue their promising progress, as the step up to the senior national team demands exceptionally hard work.
Is there a new Renate Lingor waiting in the wings?
I really like the look of Kim Kulig. She’s good in both attack and defence, and she’s really consistent for her age. And Simone Laudehr, who’s already an established figure in the senior squad, is extremely versatile with some tremendous attributes.
Who’s going to win this year's UEFA Women's EURO in Finland?
I’m reluctant to make any predictions, as it might give the impression we think we have a God-given right to the trophy. People forget how much work goes into the success we achieve with the German women’s team. Our team obviously has the potential, but we won’t win the European title just by showing up.