Marie-Louise Eta becomes first woman to take charge of men’s Bundesliga team

Marie-Louise Eta looks on during the warm up prior to the Bundesliga match between 1. FC Union Berlin and SV Darmstadt
Marie-Louise Eta, Interim Head Coach of 1.FC Union Berlin (Photo by Maja Hitij/Getty Images)

Marie-Louise Eta has made history as the first woman to take charge of a men’s Bundesliga team.

The UEFA Women’s Champions League winner was in the dugout for Union Berlin as they took three points in their league clash against Darmstadt.

Eta is no stranger to success in Germany’s top flight. She won the Frauen-Bundesliga title as a player three times successively during her time with FFC Turbine Potsdam. The 32-year-old former German youth international was announced as Union Berlin’s assistant head coach earlier this season in 2023. The announcement rightly received much celebration in the football community at the time.

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Union Berlin manager Nenad Bjelica was suspended from the touchline for the fixture against Darmstadt, who find themselves bottom of the Bundesliga after 19 games. Bjelica’s ban stretches across three matches, which means Eta will also take the reins for the upcoming fixtures against RB Leipzig and Mainz.

Significance of the moment

The match and the three points themselves mark a watershed moment for female leaders in the men’s game. Not only is Eta the first woman to take charge of a men’s game at this level in Germany, she is the first to win a game at this level.

Despite the significance of the milestone, Eta stressed back in 2018 it’s more significant that she has the resources and opportunity to be best for the job when that time comes.

Union Berlin are looking fairly safe from their previous relegation threat prior to the three points earned by Eta’s side. They now sit five points clear of the drop-zone with a game in hand above their nearest rivals Köln.

BREMEN, GERMANY – AUGUST 14: Allianz Frauen Bundesliga Club Tour of Werder Bremen. (Photo by Lukas Schulze/Bongarts/Getty Images)

“It doesn’t make me proud because I’m the only woman. As a person, I am happy that I can do this job. I don’t see any difference whether a man or a woman works in youth football. The quality of the coach on and off the pitch is crucial,” Eta said during her time as Werder Bremen’s U15 boys’ team coach.

Having been forced to retire from playing the sport at just 26, it seems that Eta’s coaching career could be contrastingly long-lived.

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