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Tatjana Haenni, Director of Women's Football - Swiss Football Association (Interview)

An excerpt from the interview of Tatjana Haenni - She started her football career in Switzerland in 1979 playing for FC Bern. She has represented the Swiss Women’s National Team 23 times between 1984 and 1996. Alongside this, Tatjana started working for UEFA in 1994 where she was the first employee fully dedicated to women’s football.

Q) Sport is still a male-dominated business. It's still prevalent, but you can see women leaders really coming to the forefront now. You were there right from the start, driving women as professionals. On one hand, you were on the field, but then you transitioned to being on the business side of things, which obviously needs a change in mindset. It not only needs guts, but it's challenging as well. How did you overcome the challenges?

A) I grew up playing football, I loved playing football. I was always involved in football and starting as a young girl playing with the boys and then going into clubs and national team and then becoming a professional in the admin side and the business side.

"It was just one step after the other. It was like an automatic development without too much salt in it. It just happened naturally. Sometimes you don't realize in what situation you're in, you just do it."

Obviously, you feel that you're in a challenging environment because you see and feel and know that you're not getting the proper treatment and you're not getting the right infrastructure, you're not treated equally, but that drove me, even more, to try to change that. It's difficult sometimes. The biggest challenge that I see today is that some of the organizations that could be the biggest game-changers for women's sports and women's football are still hesitant and still probably not doing the right things.

There are a lot of excuses. “There's no money, there's no business, there's not enough players, there's not enough women" and I'm really a bit tired of those excuses because of the fact that they’re just not true. If you do it right, there is money in women's football, and if you look for women being executive committee members or coaches, there are women who want to be there. They just haven't found their space yet in this family or in this culture of football.

But you can't change history and I think you also have to accept that you can't change from one day to the other, something as complex as a culture. Women's rights worldwide are changing, society is changing, the role of women is changing, and the same effect will happen in sports. It will change, it will become better and better as it does now already. If you look at women’s football today and ten years ago, there have been so many great changes and positive changes and that momentum will continue.

It's a privilege to be involved in something where you feel that you can change something, but at the same time, it needs many people. It's not me or anybody else. It's not one organization, it's not one person, it's the culture.

"It's a cultural change happening right now for the better, for women and women’s sports and women’s football, and I hope one day if I look back, I can say that I've done my share."

To watch the complete interview, please click here

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