“It could have been a little more,” says Yasemin Idir. It refers to the hours of sleep she got after reaching the group stage of the Women’s Champions League. “Of course we still celebrate, dance and sing,” says the captain of St. Bolton. After winning 1-0 in the first leg, it took up to 118 minutes in the second leg at the NV Arena in front of 1,070 spectators before the decision was made. Mattia Zephyr, who had already made it 1-0 in the sixth minute, scored a 2-2 equalizer and thus secured promotion to the Great Gala after trailing 2-1. “The game was such an emotional ride. We often lacked the last of the Alzerl in duels. He was of course a jerk to the end, but we are more mature now. A few years ago we would not have made it to 1-2.”
The Austrian champions are now “on the biggest stage in Europe” and will play against the best teams on the continent. “Barcelona of course would be a dream. They are currently the measure of all things. But we don’t just want to travel to big cities for sightseeing. We want to step on the gas – against every opponent. Although we know it will be difficult and challenging.”
But the role of the underdog is what Eder knows from the national team. “And we already showed in 2017, with the semi-finals of the European Championships, that it is not that bad. We can only win.”
Financially, moving to the first division is already a win. Each participating team receives an entry fee of €400,000. The winner of the Champions League can earn up to 1.4 million euros. Non-participating clubs also benefit when there is a team from home. UEFA distributes 5.5 million euros in solidarity payments to the clubs of the participating national associations.
For comparison: for men, each participating team receives 15.6 million euros in entry fees. Totals that will probably never be reached in the Women’s Champions League. Participation in the prestigious club competition provides other opportunities for this. “We play every fall, matches are broadcast on DAZN. There is a lot going on in the media about the group stage and of course it also brings points for the Austrian League in the coming seasons. It is really great to have Austria represented on this stage,” says Eder.
In addition to Saint-Polten, Austria is also represented in the Champions League by Marie-Therese Hoebinger (FC Zurich), Manuela Zinsberger, Laura Weinrother (both Arsenal), Marina Georgieva (Paris Saint-Germain) and Karina Weininger (Roma).
The draw for the group stage will take place on Monday when the Austrian national team players head to Scotland. On October 6, Austria will play their first World Cup playoff match in Glasgow. “This is a unique opportunity for us,” Eder says. Victory will see Ireland at home in the second round of qualifying.
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