The last Women’s World Cup in France left the goal of Brazilian Christian against Australia, the Dutch goalkeeper Sari Van Vinendal, the rebellion of Megan Rapinoe and a kiss. A fair, authentic kiss has become a natural cry and normalization. Sweden captain Magda Erickson wrapped up her match against Canada in the Round of 16 and approached the stands to greet her partner, Danish footballer Bernell Harder. The image was, every day for them, spread all over the world. “We realized that there was a demand for references in this sense, because the reason for that picture was so cool and had a lot of people write to us to tell us they looked at us and how much we helped them,” says Harder. “Then I understood that we were really strong together. We had never seen each other like this before,” confirms Erikson.
Harder, who was the goalscorer and best player in the German Bundesliga, watched the World Cup from the stands, wearing the Sweden jersey. Much has been written about Ada Hegerberg (the first female footballer to win a Ballon d’Or) and her decision to be absent from France in her battle for equal pay in men’s and women’s soccer in Norway; But few are the Danish team led by Harder, who fell into the World Cup qualifiers when players went on strike amid a brawl with their union over a gender-based prize gap. Denmark, which reached the European Cup Final in 2017, was left without the World Cup. “It would have been better if we didn’t have to, but it’s time to fight for change. We were out of the World Cup, and the consequences were really tough, but in the end it was worth it,” Harder explains.
Growing up in a middle-class family in Icast, Harder lived a childhood similar to most girls of her generation: She didn’t have any references. “When I was playing at home, he was calling me David Beckham. I also liked Luis Figo,” he remembers. Even a fiendishly brash Brazilian appeared, the envy of many male soccer players, and is a reference for girls all over the world. “When I met Marta, I had to search for her goals on YouTube. It wasn’t easy to watch the women’s football match.” In her hometown of about 15,000 people, women used to practice any sport. But in the case of football, it wasn’t that easy. There were girls’ teams, but the level wasn’t good. I had to insist on playing with the boys, “says the Dane.
But Burnell Harder, 28, is so much more than a kiss. Far more than just a fighter for LGTBI rights, much more than a feminist, much more than a soccer player with a common goal (an organization that collects 1% of players’ salaries for charitable purposes). “She is one of the best players in the world.” Chelsea coach Emma Hayes says what she has done for Chelsea, Wolfsburg and Linköping, as well as for her national team, speaks to how important she is to all the teams she has participated in. “Burnell had a huge impact in rebuilding the national team. His influence is the field, of course, but also outside. She is a great leader, ”adds Lars Sundegaard, the Danish coach.
In 2020, after four seasons at Wolfsburg (103 goals in 124 games), Harder moved to Chelsea. It wasn’t just a signature. The Dane, who now shares a dressing room with her partner Erikson, has become the most expensive deal in history: 350,000 euros. It did not disappoint. He played 34 matches and scored 16 goals. This Sunday he will play the Champions League final for the second time in a row and aspire to achieve a hat-trick with Chelsea. He has already won the Premier League title and the FA Cup. “My goal is to win. That’s why I fell for Chelsea,” concludes Harder, a feminist activist and philanthropist, particularly a football player.