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Marie-Louise Eta will make history this Saturday as she becomes the first-ever female assistant coach in the Bundesliga’s 60-year existence when coaching Union Berlin.
Eta has been chosen by the Union to serve as assistant to interim coach Marco Grote after the firing of the well-liked Urs Fischer during the international break.
Fischer guided the team to unparalleled achievements for a period of 5 years, but this season, Union is currently at the bottom of the standings with nine consecutive losses.
Grote and Eta were elevated from Union’s Under-19 squad, which placed third in both their national league and UEFA Youth League tournaments before being promoted to the senior team. Their debut match as head coaches will be at home against Augsburg, who have not lost in their last four games.
Although Eta will make history as the first female member of a coaching staff in the Bundesliga since its establishment in 1963, Union as a club is solely prioritizing its current sports situation.
Dirk Zingler, the president of the Union, stated that appointing Eta as a soccer coach should not be seen as a conscious decision based on her gender. He believes that her qualifications as a coach are what truly matter, regardless of whether she is a woman or a man. In his opinion, the decision was made based on her skills as a soccer coach, not her gender.
On Monday, Grote and Eta conducted their inaugural training session, but several players were missing due to their international commitments. Italian defender Leonardo Bonucci was unable to participate due to a thigh injury he suffered during the 4-0 defeat against Bayer Leverkusen prior to the international break.
Eta, who is now 32 years old, was once a defensive midfielder but retired from playing at the age of 26. She then transitioned to coaching, specifically with Werder Bremen’s Under-15 boys’ team.
Eta was a member of Turbine Potsdam and achieved victory in the Champions League in 2010, as well as winning three Bundesliga titles with the team. She then went on to play for Hamburg, Cloppenburg, and Bremen. Eta also represented Germany in their youth teams and eventually became a coaching assistant for them.
This year, Eta obtained her professional coaching license from the German soccer federation academy in Frankfurt. She then joined Union from Bremen in the summer.
It appears that she is poised to make history as the first female assistant coach in the top leagues of Europe’s “big five” countries.
In 2014, Corinne Diacre was appointed as the coach of Clermont, a second-division club in France. She took over for Helena Costa, who had originally been hired but later resigned before the season began. Costa stated that she felt marginalized by her male colleagues and used as a mere symbol to gain attention.
Costa was the initial female coach to be selected in the highest two tiers of a professional European league. However, Diacre achieved the milestone of becoming the first woman to coach a men’s professional football team in a competitive game in France.
In 1999, the third-tier Italian team Viterbese appointed Carolina Morace as their coach, making her the first female to lead a professional men’s soccer team. However, she stepped down after only two games.
In July of this year, Forest Green Rovers, a team in the fourth division, made history by appointing Hannah Dingley as their first female head coach. Dingley was already leading the club’s academy, another first for English football. However, her time as coach was short-lived as she was soon replaced by a male colleague.