Union Berlin appointed Marie-Louise Eta as the first woman to be an assistant for a Bundesliga club. The former player with Werder Bremen had been coaching the Union Berlin U-19 side. Now, she will occupy the dugout as part of the Union Berlin senior squad. Her first appearance in the Bundesliga will be against Augsburg on Saturday, Nov. 25.

The German club sits at the bottom of the Bundesliga, a far cry from where it was at the end of last season. Union finished the 2022/23 campaign in fourth, which earned it qualification into the UEFA Champions League. However, nine straight losses in the Bundesliga sank the club to the bottom of the German top flight. That led to the club sacking manager Urs Fischer. Fischer had been at the club since the 2018/19 season when Union Berlin was in the 2. Bundesliga.

“In the five and a half years that we have worked together, we have developed a respect and trust for each other that has enabled us to always exchange ideas openly and honestly,” Union Berlin President Dirk Zingler said. “Together we have now come to the conclusion that the time has come to take a different path.”

The direct replacement for Fischer is Marco Grote. Grote is one of the youth coaches, just like Marie-Louise Eta. The 51-year-old Grote has not held a major managerial position. However, Grote and Eta will only be with the club on an interim basis until further notice. Union Berlin is in the process of finding a new head coach to lead the club and turn its season around.

Union Berlin makes history by hiring a woman as an assistant

For now, Union Berlin is looking to its youth offerings to stabilize the club. Only three of the players in the senior squad are direct graduates of the Union Berlin youth academy. However, Eta and Grote will, at the least, understand how the club functions. That will save the club time in making a change seamless. Moreover, it provides the club time to make the correct hire.

Marco Grote and Marie-Louise Eta worked with one another in the Union Berlin youth system before jumping to an interim role with the senior squad.

Union Berlin is hiring Eta for her abilities as a coach. However, that cannot take away from the significance of hiring a woman as an assistant to help on the Union Berlin touchline. Earlier this year, Hannah Dingley became the first female manager in EFL history when she took over at Forest Green Rovers in League Two. Still, League Two is far different than the German top flight.

Female coaches have had rumors of joining major men’s sides at both club and international levels. Emma Hayes was a quiet candidate for the Chelsea job this summer. The Netherlands targeted Sarina Wiegman, the head coach of the England Women’s National Team. Eta is helping to pave the way for these hires to become more common.

Marie-Louise Eta faces tough battle with Union

It may be challenging to analyze how successful Eta is, though. In her first job with a senior squad, Eta must help turn around a team that showed consistent progression each year for the last six seasons. Following a trip to Augsburg, Union has a three-game gauntlet where it takes on Braga in the Champions League, travels to Bayern Munich and then rounds out the Champions League group stage against Real Madrid after hosting Borussia Monchengladbach.

Photo: Imago