Ants Weekly with Stephen Russell

Hi Ants, I hope you’re all enjoying your Christmas break! I definitely am. Following my piece on gender equality in football, I’ve decided to look deeper into the life of a female football fan for this week’s issue of Ants Weekly. So called traditional views consistently place men at the forefront of football and don’t see it as a major interest for women. However, in the 2014/15 English Premier League season, a quarter of match-goers were female. I decided to delve deeper into the experiences of these women.

 I spoke with avid Aston Villa fan, Amy Follos, about these inequalities. Amy has held a season ticket with Villa since the tender age of 4 and has never encountered sexism or prejudiced views while watching the Villans play. In general society, on the other hand, this isn’t the same case.

“Whenever I say I’m a football fan I’m always sceptical of the response”, Amy told me. “People look at me a little funny because they don’t expect it”. She also stated that people have even concluded that she is just “making it up” when she talks about football.

 Mostly, it seemed that her support would be questioned, along with her knowledge of the game. An example of this exact behaviour was recently outed by twitter user, Iona McGougan. Iona is a die hard Celtic fan and was quizzed on the current starting XI on popular social media, Snapchat, by a man who then later let slip that he himself had never actually been to Celtic Park! Similarly to Amy, Iona expressed that “at the games, everyone’s lovely and doesn’t think twice about you being a female”. She reported that most discrimination or prejudice occurs on social media and finds that whenever she posts a comment anywhere, people assume that she’s “unqualified to make a judgement” because she’s a woman and if she’s at games it’s because “her partner has taken her along”

 Following this, I opted to seek out the contentions and obstacles faced of someone who has actually worked in the industry as a female so I reached out to a PhD student who is specialising in football. She told me that she was only judged for being female in her time officiating U18s male football. Thankfully, she did not suffer what she describes as “explicit discrimination” but surprised looks and mumbling was fairly regular when she presented herself as the referee. On the other hand, she did begin to find that some sceptics would praise her performance after games.

 The student identified the separation of male and female football as a key factor in impeding women’s football – this and the fact that male football is one of the world’s most commercialised sports. She highlighted that it’s imperative that female officials should not stick solely to female sports as this could further “marginalise female football” and contribute to negative assumptions held about women in this area.

 “Prejudices against women in football exist in many environments and are expressed by many people” I was told. “Awareness and exposure of females in football is what I believe is the best way to prevent these prejudices”. I’m inclined to agree. Attitudes towards women has come a long way but the fact that women are still expected to prove their support for a football club is farcical at best.

 Overall, it seems that the most common type of sexism in the world of football is the outdated assumption that women can’t be as interested as men. As we continue to raise awareness for females involved in football in every level, from supporters all the way up to the top, hopefully this prejudice will decrease so that everyone can enjoy the sport we love.

 We’re in for an exciting few weeks as we navigate a few tricky fixtures and hopefully boost our chances of promotion this season! I’d like to wish everyone a merry Christmas and a happy New Year. I hope to hear from you all soon on my email, sjrussell23@outlook.com, regarding any feedback, queries or if you have any other topics you’d like to bring up on Ants Weekly. Thank you for reading!

MON THE ANTS!!

*Please note these articles are the authors own thoughts/opinions and may not reflect the thoughts/opinions of Saint Anthony’s FC

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