Everything you know if you’re a girl who loves football
‘It’s pretty insulting to be told you’re obviously only doing it to impress a man’
British women are doing alright as far as gender equality goes. We have the vote (sweet), an education and professional opportunities that were unimaginable 100 years ago.
However, the football stadium is lagging far, far behind.
You spent your childhood playing in goal blocking the boys’ best shots, you’re partial to a game of FIFA and you still can’t quite believe Zidane actually head-butted that Italian guy in 2006… yet somehow, you still feel like an outsider.
Here’s everything you’ll understand if you’re a girl who can’t get enough of the beautiful game.
No, you’re not trying to impress anyone
Here’s the thing. When I was 7, I used to wake up at about 6:30am on a Sunday to catch the repeat of Match of the Day because my mum wouldn’t let me stay up late. Anyone who thinks I had sufficient foresight to do all in order that to impress a boy, on some hypothetical future date, needs to see someone about shrinking their ego.
I’m not saying valiant women have never pretended to enjoy the FA Cup Final. But when you sit through cack-handed relegation battles, have no fingernails left after the derby, and happily get up at stupid o’clock during the World Cup, it’s pretty insulting to be told you’re obviously only doing it to impress a man.
If your date doesn’t like football, you have to ditch
Okay, so I’ll concede this is pretty much a massive double standard. But how the fuck are you meant to maintain a relationship with a person who would turn off El Clásico if Grand Designs was on at the same time?
When these people play the ‘footballers are wimps’ card, you’re disappointed they don’t appreciate the beauty of a perfect, fluid play in a sport where things aren’t always cut short by people smashing into each other. When they say ‘football is for thugs’, you know the concept of living and breathing your club is lost on them. When they bang on about footballers getting paid more than soldiers, you feel bad that they’re excluding themselves from the most inclusive sport there is.
Basically, it would be cruel to subject yourself to all that for a prolonged period of time – so you know that anyone who doesn’t get a tear in their eye when they hear the Champions League music seriously isn’t for you.
For most of the weekend, you’re on your own
“Hey girls, fancy going to the pub to watch the game?” will, like Aston Villa at the end of this season, go down like a lead balloon. If you do, by some miracle, hijack the telly for long enough to watch the Champions League, the match is always ruined by someone yapping that football is really boring – probably just after Messi’s tucked away a banger.
So instead, you spend the majority of Saturday, Sunday and sometimes a small portion of Monday holed up in your room, as the match streams on your laptop like the lonely tears down your face.
When you do go to the pub, you feel like you’re from Mars
Sometimes things get desperate: the landlord’s cancelled Sky Sports, your mum isn’t answering your pleas for the Sky Go password and your last-resort streaming site is down. So, with regret, you wander down the street to the pub, dragging a mate if you’re lucky.
There, you are treated like a foreign species – and you suddenly know exactly how teenage boys feel when they find themselves within 100 yards of an all girls’ school. In some ways, you feel great – you don’t usually get this much attention. But then you realise that really, you’re just an object of their fantasies – they think they’ve found that girl off Lad Bible who loves football, video games, and eats pizza in sexy underwear. You’re not that girl. You only eat pizza fully clothed.
Yes, you know the offside rule
It’s reached a point where you can probably explain the offside rule better than most, simply because you’ve had to do to it so many times to prove your ‘worth’. You can even give a bonus explanation of why the offside rule matters. But really, you don’t understand why the offside rule is the benchmark for ‘knowing about football’, because for a species who managed to put a man on the moon, the basic premise – don’t pass to a player who’s positioned between the second last defender and the goal – isn’t all that tricky.
No, you’re not just watching for the hot men
Two words: Diego Costa. Another word: Ronaldinho. Okay, so Olivier Giroud isn’t difficult to look at, nor is Sergio Ramos. But, even so – if the sole objective was to spend 90 minutes watching attractive men, Magic Mike on DVD is a lot cheaper and a lot less stressful.
You wish people would stop patronising you about your own team
As a woman, you’re pretty used to the patriarchy trying to make you doubt yourself – and it’s no different when it comes to football. Whatever you say, whatever your opinion, someone irrelevant will always be there to tell you that actually, Newcastle should’ve held onto Alan Pardew, and you just don’t understand.
The top and bottom is, Newcastle shouldn’t have held onto Pardew, but they also really shouldn’t have replaced him with John “I’m the best coach in the Premier League” Carver. But I digress. People like to argue with you about football, because they think you’re easy game. Usually you can put these types in their place by asking if they’ve ever actually been to Manchester.
You hope one day the bullshit will end
Most of all, you don’t get it. Why is football a ‘men’s sport’? Why can’t it be like tennis? You hope that one day you’ll be able to watch the Premier League in peace – not as a ‘girl who likes football’, but just a football fan.