"Lows Have Also Shaped Me"

October 04, 2021

Interview with Viktoria Schnaderbeck

The WU Executive Academy’s Female Leaders Network hosted a Power Breakfast with professional soccer player Viktoria Schnaderbeck, where she talked about her way to the top. In our interview, she told us about her responsibilities as a role model and her personal goals.

Pic of the event
Viktoria Schnaderbeck talks about herself being a role model for female soccer players and successful women in general.

Ms. Schnaderbeck, professional goals were a main topic of the Female Leaders Network Power Breakfast. What were some of your goals aside from becoming a professional soccer player? Did you also plan a second career option?

Yes. Getting a solid education was always important to me, even while I worked on my career as a professional soccer player. I had already suffered serious injuries early on. There were times when I was not sure that I would be able to make a comeback. That is why I always had a fallback option. I graduated from secondary school in Bavaria, then I completed my vocational training, a Bachelor’s, and a Master’s degree. In addition to giving me a feeling of security, my education was the perfect complement to my soccer training. I felt safe knowing that I would not have to start from scratch when my soccer career was over.

For male soccer players, cultivating their image is very important. Should female athletes, and women in general, push more into the limelight in their jobs? Or do you consider that unnecessary?

We have grown used to all the self-promoters among male soccer players. In women’s soccer, other values, such as teamwork and passion, are still more important. Female soccer players have always been intrinsically motivated to play soccer. They have never done it for money or media attention. Achieving something together as a team – that’s what is most important. The increasing interest of the media, TV stations, and sponsors has raised the general attention paid to women’s soccer. This means that the players’ public image is also becoming more important. For me, it is still the game that counts most – playing soccer, which is really what it is all about for me.

What does being a role model entail? You are said to be an idol – not only for aspiring soccer players but also for successful women in general.

Becoming the captain of the Austrian national team, playing for Arsenal London – for me that really is a dream come true. However, during the European Championship in 2017, I had to put all my energy into recovering from my injuries. So at times, it was difficult to keep appointments with media representatives and sponsors. But overall, I feel very lucky. As a role model, I have the opportunity to communicate a clear message to girls and boys: You can make it!

In women’s soccer, there is harsh criticism of the huge gender pay gap. Things seem about to change, however. Can soccer set an example for other business sectors in this respect?

The gender pay gap in soccer is vast. Male players earn 50 to 200 times more than female players do. We are still far from closing the gap. But every single step in the right direction counts. It has to be our aspiration and goal to eliminate these differences in payment.

Arsenal London’s women’s team is very popular in England, as is women’s soccer in general. Is the popularity of women’s soccer an indication of how progressive a society is?

The women’s team popularity is first of all due to the fact that soccer in general is extremely important in England. Arsenal fans will quite naturally also support their club’s women’s team. Moreover, the English business community is investing massively in diversity. This does have an impact, of course. A lot of money is poured into the women’s teams – by sponsors and particularly as broadcasting revenues from BBC and Sky.

Both in soccer and business, everyone is always focused on those who are successful. Did you ever think about what would have become of you if your injuries had prevented you from pursuing your path to the top?

I often think about what would have happened if I had not recovered from my injuries. This only makes me appreciate my achievements even more. Both highs and lows have shaped me and helped me to evolve as a person.

Goals are indispensable – do you rather set short-term or long-term goals for yourself?

Short-term goals are very important in soccer: you need to think from one day to the next, from one training to the next. In soccer, things move extremely quickly; there is hardly any time to pause to think. In my other career, I set long-term goals for myself and develop them into visions. There is one thing I know for sure: I am still far from having reached the end.

For more information about the Female Leaders Network and its events, please click here.

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