I'm the biggest football fan you know - and I'm a woman. What of it?

You might need to be a man to play in this World Cup , but you don't need to be one to love it

Share

The gap between the end of the club football season and the World Cup is too long. I understand the players need time to acclimatise, bond and prepare, but for fans the lack of games means searching for anything tangentially related to football to while away the hours before the tournament kicks off.

In the lead-up to this World Cup, I’ve found that trawling Twitter for Vines of Roy Hodgson doing absurd things in training sessions has proved the most rewarding diversion. It was in doing so that I stumbled upon some alternative entertainment for the tournament: World Cup Sexism Bingo.

The game lists many of things I am not looking forward to in this tournament - adverts about "football widows" or the use of the term "WAGs". But the cliché that I find tiresome all year round is someone expressing shock that a woman, like me, is interested in football.

I developed an interest in football during junior school. This blossomed into fandom following Michael Owen’s magic run through Argentina's defence at Saint-Etienne in 1998. And by the time I found myself in Istanbul, the night before I had to sit my English AS-level, watching Liverpool win the Champions League, it had developed into full blown obsession.

"My interest in football blossomed into fandom following Michael Owen’s magic run through the Argentina defence at Saint-Etienne in 1998" (Getty)  

Like any fan I get irritated about the amount of money and time I spend on football, but the thing that really enrages me is when people see a contradiction between my gender and my passion. My (male) partner is so laughably ignorant about sport that he was pleased to get Honduras in his work sweepstake, but men will attempt to engage him about football while ignoring anything I have to say on the matter.

It’s almost funny when someone says “you telling me about football is like me telling you about ballet”, but mostly it just makes me feel undermined, invisible and cross. Feminist philosopher Miranda Fricker calls this problem "epistemic injustice", where a person is wrongly treated as a poor source of information because of an underlying prejudice. 

Refusing to believe that I know Tim De’Ath is the England head chef, and spends the rest of the year trying to keep Andy Carroll in shape at West Ham, is obviously a fairly innocuous effect of this problem. But it can have more serious consequences. 

For many women building careers in football, their gender trumps their credentials and restricts their opportunities. So often "commentator", "referee" or most glaringly "linesman" are prefaced with the word "female".

And it's not just restricted to football: Amelie Mauresmo has won the Australian Open and Wimbledon, and coached last year’s winner Marion Bartoli. But when she got the job as Andy Murray’s coach this week the headlines fixated on the fact that she’s a woman.

The World Cup is for everyone, from those poring over squad selections and fixture lists for weeks, to those who just want a Caiprinha. But unless England triumph, don’t ask yourself how a woman could love football. Instead, question why we’ve all put ourselves through the pain yet again.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Web Developer - Junior / Middleweight

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: One of the South East's fastest growing full s...

Guru Careers: Marketing Manager / Marketing Communications Manager

£35-40k (DOE) + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Marketing Communicati...

Recruitment Genius: Commercial Engineer

£30000 - £32000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Estimating, preparation of tech...

Recruitment Genius: IT Support Technician

£14000 - £17000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: You will work as part of a smal...

Day In a Page

Read Next
David Cameron has reiterated his pre-election promise to radically improve the NHS  

How can we save the NHS? Rediscover the stiff upper lip

Jeremy Laurance
 

Thanks to Harriet Harman, Labour is holding its own against the Tory legislative assault

Isabel Hardman
Blundering Tony Blair quits as Middle East peace envoy – only Israel will miss him

Blundering Blair quits as Middle East peace envoy – only Israel will miss him

For Arabs – and for Britons who lost their loved ones in his shambolic war in Iraq – his appointment was an insult, says Robert Fisk
Fifa corruption arrests: All hail the Feds for riding to football's rescue

Fifa corruption arrests

All hail the Feds for riding to football's rescue, says Ian Herbert
Isis in Syria: The Kurdish enclave still resisting the tyranny of President Assad and militant fighters

The Kurdish enclave still resisting the tyranny of Assad and Isis

In Syrian Kurdish cantons along the Turkish border, the progressive aims of the 2011 uprising are being enacted despite the war. Patrick Cockburn returns to Amuda
How I survived Cambodia's Killing Fields: Acclaimed surgeon SreyRam Kuy celebrates her mother's determination to escape the US

How I survived Cambodia's Killing Fields

Acclaimed surgeon SreyRam Kuy celebrates her mother's determination to escape to the US
Stephen Mangan interview: From posh buffoon to pregnant dad, the actor has quite a range

How Stephen Mangan got his range

Posh buffoon, hapless writer, pregnant dad - Mangan is certainly a versatile actor
The ZX Spectrum has been crowd-funded back into play - with some 21st-century tweaks

The ZX Spectrum is back

The ZX Spectrum was the original - and for some players, still the best. David Crookes meets the fans who've kept the games' flames lit
Grace of Monaco film panned: even the screenwriter pours scorn on biopic starring Nicole Kidman

Even the screenwriter pours scorn on Grace of Monaco biopic

The critics had a field day after last year's premiere, but the savaging goes on
Menstrual Hygiene Day: The strange ideas people used to believe about periods

Menstrual Hygiene Day: The strange ideas people once had about periods

If one was missed, vomiting blood was seen as a viable alternative
The best work perks: From free travel cards to making dreams come true (really)

The quirks of work perks

From free travel cards to making dreams come true (really)
Is bridge the latest twee pastime to get hip?

Is bridge becoming hip?

The number of young players has trebled in the past year. Gillian Orr discovers if this old game has new tricks
Long author-lists on research papers are threatening the academic work system

The rise of 'hyperauthorship'

Now that academic papers are written by thousands (yes, thousands) of contributors, it's getting hard to tell workers from shirkers
The rise of Lego Clubs: How toys are helping children struggling with social interaction to build better relationships

The rise of Lego Clubs

How toys are helping children struggling with social interaction to build better relationships
5 best running glasses

On your marks: 5 best running glasses

Whether you’re pounding pavements, parks or hill passes, keep your eyes protected in all weathers
Joe Root: 'Ben Stokes gives everything – he’s rubbing off on us all'

'Ben Stokes gives everything – he’s rubbing off on us all'

Joe Root says the England dressing room is a happy place again – and Stokes is the catalyst
Raif Badawi: Wife pleads for fresh EU help as Saudi blogger's health worsens

Please save my husband

As the health of blogger Raif Badawi worsens in prison, his wife urges EU governments to put pressure on the Saudi Arabian royal family to allow her husband to join his family in Canada