This list aims to highlight the (often invisible) pressures that female football fans have on them, especially when out in male-dominated football contexts in public. I mean, I have lived in Sweden, Germany, Spain and the UK, all football-crazy countries, and in every single place I’ve been, I can attest to having had to go through all of the following when at the stadium or in a pub watching.
As a female football fan, I don’t have to …
1. Look a certain way
Under absolutely no circumstances do I have to fit into your narrow expectations of what a female football fan should look like – you only need to google “female football fans” to get the idea. My fandom is not there for you to have something to rest the eyes on. However, it is also totally fine if I want to wear my football shirt tight and wear makeup. I’m still not there to appeal to your male gaze.
2. Drink beer
Or any alcohol really. Or let me just walk off with my Martini in peace. The point is – just because beer is the (not so) original go-to choice for literally every single man seated in front of a football game, doesn’t mean that I have to have that. And no, you really don’t need to point it out.
3. Wear a football top
I might’ve come straight from work and not brought the shirt, or my favourite shirt might be in the wash. Or, frankly, I might not own one, maybe I can’t afford it. Regardless, having a football shirt is not a badge of honour that shows you that I “get it”, neither is it something that I wear for the sole purpose of showing you that I get it.
4. Know everything about the team
Just because I have declared myself a fan of a team, it doesn’t mean that I am caught up in the ins and outs of the club. Heck, I might’ve even missed that they’re playing today. Life happens and it’s not always easy to balance.
5. Accept you (man) popping up and starting to quiz me about the team
One more time for the people in the back: just because I have declared myself a fan of a team, it does not mean that I’m required to know everything there is to know about it. And it is absolutely not your place to feel free to start quizzing me about various historical moments of the club, having me prove to you that I know my stuff as if being a fan of the club required certain entry-level knowledge – only female fans mind.
6. Prove to you that I actually understand tactics (not to mention the offside rule …)
Furthermore, my knowledge of tactics (or lack thereof) is none of your business.
7. Be able to recount players from all the top leagues
It can be quite intimidating when the names start to hail down around you and you’re expected to keep up, only to fail miserably or feel like you’re constantly on your toes.
8. Explain why I love my team
The story is getting old by now, how I found my team and fell in love and the reasons behind it. If anything it feels like people (who am I kidding: men) need further justification from me on how on earth I managed to find a team that I like, and are you sure that it’s not because of that hot player?
9. Tell the story about how I got into football
Yes, I’m a woman who loves football. No, it was not my dad who got me into it. There are several entryways into the football world, I’m just saying that it doesn’t have to be a man that was the catalyst.
10. Talk to you at all really …
… even though I like football and have chosen to watch it in a pub or at the stadium. I know that I’ve chosen to watch this game out in public, however, that is not so that you can feel free to strike up a conversation with me, questioning my legitimacy as a football fan. Respect my boundaries.
11. Sit quiet and accept the ref’s decision
Women are conditioned to sit back and be quiet and well-behaved, but those days are over and it’s time to claim that space, the rowdy, upset and passionate space that football fans find themselves in all too often.
12. Educate you about women’s football
Heck, why do I have to know anything about women’s football just because I’m a woman? Now, personally, I happen to like women’s football and I know many women that do, and to a certain extent I can understand where one would draw some logical parallels like women supporting women and that, but we’re all grown up in a society that is not supportive of women’s football and that has taught us that it’s far inferior to men’s football, this is not just a view of men. And it’s something that we just have to work on changing (with so many positive changes in the air right now!!!), but it drives me nuts sometimes when a woman is assumed to be an expert on women’s football based on the sole fact that she’s a woman interested in football.
13. Accommodate your uncomfortableness
Now, maybe you haven’t been around too many female football fans, which is fine. However, it’s not on me to make you feel better after an awkward encounter that ended in you making sexist remarks/assumptions and interrupting my football experience.
Can you relate to any of these points, and how did that make you feel? Share in the comment section below!