I’ve written a post in the past about what it’s like being a female football fan. But I kind of wanted to elaborate a little bit on it about what it’s like to be a female footy fan in this modern day.
*In David Attenborough’s voice*
It’s August 2006, there’s a 13 year old girl sat in her natural habitat, the living room. She is just starting to appreciate the world and sport that is football for what it is. She is just about to start her new life as a Liverpool Football Club supporter. She is also grazing on a pepperoni pizza as she watches Steven Gerrard (my hero at the time) score an absolute belter from outside the box.
I absolutely adore being a football fan in this modern day era. When I was in school, the fact that I had some sort of knowledge of football seemed to cause a lot of stick from friends and other classmates and it was kind of seen as unheard of. A school girl loving and watching football the way I did seemed so unethical to others. I made it no secret that I supported Liverpool in school. It was kind of hard being in the year group that seemed to be swarming with Manchester United fans (one of Liverpool’s biggest rivals) but I was proud to be a Red. I’ve never, ever been ashamed of being an LFC fan, no matter how many attempts my so called friends tried to make me feel differently.
As I’ve gotten older being a football supporter, I’ve always noticed, especially during the World Cups or Euro’s (big football tournaments that each happen every four years respectively) that the media have sexualised women football fans to the world. There are so many problems with that last sentence. The fact that the media sometimes have chosen to exploit and stereotyped women football fans to only like the game because of the fit footballers (that is a bonus, I got to admit) , to not have an understanding of the game and that we all wear football shirts that look like they’ve been shrunk in the wash and that we wear Kylie Minogue style hot pants with said shirts is wrong. That’s why sometimes men look at me in disbelief when I can clearly explain the offside rule.
Just because I’m a woman, it doesn’t mean I am not able to formally understand football, it’s rules and everything surrounding it. Men do assume that we have picked up football knowledge from a somebody else eg a male football fan in my family. Nah, I did all my learning myself lad. I learnt the offside rule, what a back pass is, how many substitutes are allowed to be made in a match, what each position a footballer can play in, what a 4-4-2 formation is, what grassroots football is and why it’s important and the history behind Liverpool Football Club. I’ve learnt all this off my own back, I didn’t just look it up on Google or have somebody else teach me. I learnt it for myself. ME.
There’s no excuse for the media to portray female football fans like myself to not be REAL football fans. Football has come a long way in terms of allowing women to be more involved in the media. There are more female pundits than ever before, women’s football has made huge strides to become very popular and widely watched by a bigger audience. Female football fans are not getting berated by men so much for not knowing anything. Let’s face it, there are women who do like football. I’ll let you in on a little secret – we’ve even gone to matches to watch it too.
I love the empowerment football has given me. The fact that I can talk about football freely to any man in the pub, a taxi driver and even my own family gives me such a confidence that I won’t find anywhere else. I love the confidence of being able to talk about football to ordinary punters in the pub and not be stuck for what to say next. Ask me to explain the offside rule, I’m your girl. Ask me to explain what epistolary means, nah, go and ask someone else.
From now on, I don’t want to be known as a female football fan – I want to be known as a football fan.