Fitschen: A big festival of fun

She is one of the pioneers of the sport, holding the record for German caps between 1999 and 2003 and earning a lasting reputation as the Franz Beckenbauer of women's football for her organisational capacities in defence. Now Doris Fitschen has another great responsibility on her 39-year-old shoulders, as Head of Marketing for the Organising Committee (OC) of the FIFA Women's World Cup Germany 2011. She took time out from her busy schedule to give an exclusive interview. Ms Fitschen, what is more exciting - playing in a FIFA Women's World Cup or organising one?
Doris Fitschen: Both are really big and exciting challenges. My playing days were obviously a wonderful experience and it is funny but I actually became more nervous as I got older in the build-up to matches. As a member of the Organising Committee for the Women's World Cup 2011 I have a lot more responsibility, which makes you a lot more meticulous. I'm not nervous, and I will definitely feel a positive buzz as the tournament starts to approach.

During your playing career you were seen as an organiser - someone who made things happen. Are there characteristics from those days that help you now in your important role with the OC?
Team spirit is the main thing! I know very well from my own experience what can be achieved when you all sing from the same hymn sheet. Ambition is another thing - it's a must for anyone hoping for success. But you are right, as a sweeper I had a lot of organising to do, so there are some parallels [laughs].

You also had a reputation as a real personality and as someone who could see the big picture beyond football. What can the FIFA Women's World Cup Germany 2011 achieve in terms of social importance?
I think that the World Cup is the largest women's event in the world, so the fact that we are hosting this tournament gives us the possibility to lay down some markers: one for our sport and one for women in society. An event like this one has a great deal of influence on the public, and we obviously want to make the most of that.

The FIFA World Cup Germany 2006™ created a positive impression on absolutely every level - great atmosphere, full stadiums and top-class football. Has this set the bar too high? Will it put pressure on the FIFA Women's World Cup 2011 or is it actually an advantage to have had this kind of experience two years ago?
Of course it's of benefit to us as we can all vividly recall this incredible festival that took place in Germany just over two years ago. But we all know that the Women's World Cup 2011 won't be on the same scale. We are trying to reach a different target group and concentrating more on families, girls and youngsters.

How do you intend to do this?
We will obviously also have fan miles, but they will look different. We are also planning Family Days and Roadshows throughout the host cities. I am absolutely convinced that the Women's World Cup 2011 will be a big festival of fun. Otherwise, we have noticed that there is great interest in the Women's World Cup which has been building up in the business community. It's a great feeling, particularly for me since I have followed the whole development of our sport from my days as a player.

Why is this the right time for the FIFA Women's World Cup to be held in Germany?
Because Germany has won the past two World Cups. Holding the next Women's World Cup on home soil really is a unique opportunity for us to show what we are capable of - and then go one step further. Sustainability is also incredibly important for us. This is the way to get more girls playing football and more fans in the stadiums.

The development of women's football has been incredible - it is increasing in popularity, and the standard of the teams is improving. Will this development continue at Germany 2011?
I think that everyone agrees that Germany is the ideal nation to host the Women's World Cup 2011 because there is such a sense of euphoria here. Our aim is clear - we want to lay down a marker, a marker for women's football in Germany and for women's football around the world! Other than Marta, no-one has heard of any of the players. We can change this by getting fans to come to open training sessions, for example, which will get them closer to the teams.

Are you already looking forward to getting to know Federal Chancellor Angela Merkel when the announcement of the FIFA Women's World Cup venues is made at the Chancellery in Berlin?
Yes, very much so. I really admire the way that Mrs Merkel handles such an important political role.

Who will win the FIFA Women's World Cup in 2011?
I think that Germany will be hot favourites since they are defending champions and will also have home advantage. But there are obviously a lot of other good teams who will be looking to go all the way. Whoever plays best on the day will come out on top.