Germany captain Popp blasts Gladbach coach's punishment of training of women's team

Germany women's captain Alexandra Popp has criticised the order handed to Borussia Monchengladbach under-23s coach Heiko Vogel, who was told to train a women's team as punishment for a comment he made to a referee.

Vogel, 45, was hit with a two-match ban and a €1,500 fine as well as the order to train a women's or girls' team for six sessions following sexist comments made towards two female referees at a fourth-tier match in late January.

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"Discrimination has no place in sports," VfL Wolfsburg forward Popp told ESPN. "Maybe you should consider if those people should still have a place in football instead of sending them to a women's team.

"It's just the wrong approach. It devalues women's football, it ridicules women's football.

Popp, 29, added that they held talks with German FA (DFB) president Fritz Keller on Monday after what they felt was a lack of support.

Vogel told assistant referee Vanessa Arlt that "women have absolutely no place in football," and that "women should be banned from football," after he was sent off, sources told ESPN.

When asked about those comments, Popp added: "This must no longer happen. We talk about discrimination, about racism, about everything all the time, and this sort of discrimination should no longer be an issue.

"Whether I am on a football pitch or a man does the housework. It doesn't matter. It's 2021. Let people live the lives they want to live."

The ban and the fine were imposed on Vogel during a hearing on March 9 by the Western German FA (WDFV), a regional FA within the DFB.

Last week, Gladbach had claimed Vogel introduced the idea during the hearing and it was no punishment, while the WDFV is reviewing the verdict of its own sports court.

At the weekend, players in the upper two tiers of Germany's women's football pyramid wrote an open letter to the DFB, where they said that "the question arises as to how the training of a women's or girls' team can be defined as punishment."

DFB vice president Hannelore Ratzeburg backed the joint statement when she said that the part of the punishment was "incomprehensible."

DFB president Fritz Keller would not comment and, on Monday, held a conference call with Popp and Germany keeper Almuth Schulth in which he tried to clarify why he had remained silent.

"We can now understand the DFB president was only following the protocol, but it would have had a different magnitude if the president had commented on it himself," Popp said.