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

C# Algo-Developer (BDD/TDD, ASP.NET, JavaScript, RX)

£45000 - £69999 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: C# Algo-Develo...

Senior Data Scientist (Data Mining, Apache Mahout, Python,R,AI)

£60000 - £70000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: Senior Data Sc...

Data Scientist (SQL,Data mining, data modelling, PHD, AI)

£50000 - £80000 per annum + benefits+bonus+package: Harrington Starr: Data Sci...

Java Developer - 1 year contract

£350 - £400 Per Day: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our client based in Cent...

Day In a Page

Read Next
 

The power of anonymity lies in the freedom it grants

Boyd Tonkin
Rebel fighters walk in front of damaged buildings in Karam al-Jabal neighbourhood of Aleppo on August 26, 2014.  

The Isis threat must be confronted with clarity and determination

Ed Miliband
Ukraine crisis: The phoney war is over as Russian troops and armour pour across the border

The phoney war is over

Russian troops and armour pour into Ukraine
Potatoes could be off the menu as crop pests threaten UK

Potatoes could be off the menu as crop pests threaten UK

The world’s entire food system is under attack - and Britain is most at risk, according to a new study
Gangnam smile: why the Chinese are flocking to South Korea to buy a new face

Gangnam smile: why the Chinese are flocking to South Korea to buy a new face

Seoul's plastic surgery industry is booming thanks to the popularity of the K-Pop look
From Mozart to Orson Welles: Creative geniuses who peaked too soon

Creative geniuses who peaked too soon

After the death of Sandy Wilson, 90, who wrote his only hit musical in his twenties, John Walsh wonders what it's like to peak too soon and go on to live a life more ordinary
Caught in the crossfire of a cyber Cold War

Caught in the crossfire of a cyber Cold War

Fears are mounting that Vladimir Putin has instructed hackers to target banks like JP Morgan
Salomé's feminine wiles have inspired writers, painters and musicians for 2,000 years

Salomé: A head for seduction

Salomé's feminine wiles have inspired writers, painters and musicians for 2,000 years. Now audiences can meet the Biblical femme fatale in two new stage and screen projects
From Bram Stoker to Stanley Kubrick, the British Library's latest exhibition celebrates all things Gothic

British Library celebrates all things Gothic

Forthcoming exhibition Terror and Wonder: The Gothic Imagination will be the UK's largest ever celebration of Gothic literature
The Hard Rock Café's owners are embroiled in a bitter legal dispute - but is the restaurant chain worth fighting for?

Is the Hard Rock Café worth fighting for?

The restaurant chain's owners are currently embroiled in a bitter legal dispute
Caribbean cuisine is becoming increasingly popular in the UK ... and there's more to it than jerk chicken at carnival

In search of Caribbean soul food

Caribbean cuisine is becoming increasingly popular in the UK ... and there's more to it than jerk chicken at carnival
11 best face powders

11 best face powders

Sweep away shiny skin with our pick of the best pressed and loose powder bases
England vs Norway: Roy Hodgson's hands tied by exploding top flight

Roy Hodgson's hands tied by exploding top flight

Lack of Englishmen at leading Premier League clubs leaves manager hamstrung
Angel Di Maria and Cristiano Ronaldo: A tale of two Manchester United No 7s

Di Maria and Ronaldo: A tale of two Manchester United No 7s

They both inherited the iconic shirt at Old Trafford, but the £59.7m new boy is joining a club in a very different state
Israel-Gaza conflict: No victory for Israel despite weeks of death and devastation

Robert Fisk: No victory for Israel despite weeks of devastation

Palestinians have won: they are still in Gaza, and Hamas is still there
Mary Beard writes character reference for Twitter troll who called her a 'slut'

Unlikely friends: Mary Beard and the troll who called her a ‘filthy old slut’

The Cambridge University classicist even wrote the student a character reference
America’s new apartheid: Prosperous white districts are choosing to break away from black cities and go it alone

America’s new apartheid

Prosperous white districts are choosing to break away from black cities and go it alone