What it’s like being a female football fan during the Euros
Can you please stop asking me about the offside rule
The Euros are finally upon us. A time when the whole country unites, hoping our team will finally make us proud again (or at least try to make it out of the group stages without embarrassing themselves).
Increasingly more and more women are getting involved, both on and off the pitch, myself included. Having been involved with the sport for quite some years, it seemed right to warn others of the shit you’ll go through as a female football fan during this great tournament – trust me, it goes way beyond having “get your tits out for the lads” being sung at you.
Much of the abuse will probably happen online
Sites like Twitter are the main culprits for this. Every woman I spoke to had similar experiences to me and said they hadn’t experienced abuse at football games, yet this was not the case online. Hiding behind a profile picture of a player, with a “punny” twitter handle, abusers tend to try and be as controversial as possible.
A fan I spoke to, Sophie, said: Most times I log into Twitter I see girls talking about football but having their opinions ridiculed because of their gender. When I first got Twitter and made it obvious I was a Chelsea fan, the sexist comments I’d received put me off using social media to talk about football.”
You’ll likely be stereotyped
I have been branded a “lesbian” or been accused of being a “beg” for liking football. I’ve been asked if I know the offside rule more times than I can remember and have also been told I only like football for male attention, by male fans (and occasionally women). Obviously, none of these things are true, as I clearly wasn’t choosing to wear a Chelsea shirt at the age of six to get guys to like me.
Another girl I spoke to, a Portsmouth fan called Courtney, said that she has had people assume she was gay because she liked football too, adding that “it never bothered me, though; there are a lot worse names to be called” (very true).
The lack of originality when we’re being insulted gets boring
If I had a pound for every time I heard the classic “get back in the kitchen”, I’d be richer than Sheikh Mansour. Come on guys, if you’re going to insult me, at least try and make it vaguely entertaining. Pretty much every girl I asked had witnessed this mind-numbingly unoriginal attempt at humour on one occasion. I’m not sure what’s sadder – that women have to be exposed to this, or the fact that anyone still thinks it’s funny.
People will assume you fancy the players
Yes, Eden Hazard does look rather fetching but I am not watching the entire game because of this. The assumption that girls only like football to ogle at the players is really, really stupid. I’m sorry but if that was the case, I’m sure no women would be fans of Zlatan or Iniesta – but we are, because it’s their football we are interested in first and foremost.
Your opinions will be dismissed
Other people will dismiss your opinions as if the fact you don’t have a penis means you automatically will never understand the offside rule. As Claire, an Arsenal fan told me, male fans often go as far as to ask girls questions about football that very few people know the answer to, then when they get them wrong, pin it on their gender. From my experience, guys will use our femininity against us, usually when they are losing a debate about football.
When asked, Lucy, a Swansea fan, shared this frustration: “It’s like people won’t take your thoughts into consideration because you’re a different sex and it’s very frustrating”.
You’ll probably be sexualised
If you type “female football fans” into Google, the first few pages of results are mostly lists of “the sexiest 50 female football fans” or “the countries with the hottest female fans”, followed by gorgeous women in super-revealing football kits, or bikinis with the Barcelona badge on them. It’s led to female fans being seen as some kind of novelty, to be sexualised and this idea of us being different from other girls, like we’re suddenly “sexy” by default.
How often have we seen camera men relentlessly zoom in on scantily clad or very attractive female fans, during coverage of games? Why not zoom in on really attractive men in the crowd (equality and all that). It’s stuff like this that causes women to be put off by talking about football, which really goes against what the game is about. Why can’t we be seen and valued the same as every other fan, regardless of our gender?