Autumn marks new things for many people. The start of a new school year. The beginning of the best fashion season. And (arguably the most awesome of them all) the start of European club football.
While I do look forward to watching weekly games, cheering on my favorite teams, and keeping up with news and predictions of what will happen during the season, lately I’ve been looking back and reflecting on my experiences as a female fan. I am an avid football fan, following my favorite players and teams year-round. I love the game, I love watching it.
But just like virtually all other sports, football is incredibly male-dominated in every aspect, and as a woman, I’m often left frustrated and exasperated in the heavily male environment and fandom. When I talk to someone about football, I’m doing so because I enjoy it. I want to share, discuss, and talk about what is going on with a topic I’m interested in to someone else.
But instead of being met with standard questions, say about the team I support or who my favorite players are, I’m more often met with a dismissive response—probably a quip about how I’m only watching for the hot players or because I want to be “one of the guys”. I don’t know why or how this happens so frequently, but it seems like many men are incapable of believing that a woman can be interested in something for (gasp) the intrinsic happiness it brings her, and because of the men involved. I’m not here for the men, and I often wonder if people realize how ridiculous these condescending claims sound.
Obviously I’m spending all this time and effort into feigning interest in football because it is part of a grand scheme to manipulate a man into a date. And I’ve clearly got no better things to do other than watching 22 barely distinguishable figures on a screen for 4-10 hours a week, praying for a close up or a glimpse of someone’s abs.
I’m tired of men assuming I’m incompetent about soccer simply because I’m a woman. I’m tired of offensive and insulting remarks about how I don’t know what I’m talking about, or that I’m only here to see a player take their shirt off. “Name three players on your team.” No. I know every player on my team (and probably on yours too), and the assumption that naming a few would be a challenge to me is insulting and frustrating. “Do you even know what it means to be off-side?” Yes, and quite frankly it isn’t all that difficult (well, maybe it is to condescending doo-doo brains) and I don’t know why it is so frequently asked of me and other women to verify our interest.
Football is a beautiful sport, and can (and should) be enjoyed by people of all levels of familiarity. It is not bad to be unaware of the happenings of football or be uncertain as to what is going on. However it is irritating that men consistently believe this must be the case for me, and other women, based on the sole fact that I’m female, and it’s even more insulting for them to presume I’m faking my interest for the game.
Men are not the reason for my interest for football. Football is the reason for my passion for the sport, and it simply happens to be a male-dominated game. Men need to recognize that they aren’t the only ones who can enjoy the sport, and that women have a space in the football fandom as well. (x)
Being a female football fan is like being in heaven and hell at the same time, because at the same time that you love football and it brings you good memories, if you say something like “that footballer is really handsome”, people judge you as a stupid football fan that is seeing the match only to see shirtless players. Besides that, see my team winning brings me so many happiness that I can’t even put it in words. - Jéssica Gadotti