“Yes, I Can Explain the Offside Rule” – Women, Gender, and European Football Fandom
This has to be the oldest cliché in the book by now. “Women don’t understand the offside rule” – and Paula Paxton is the stereotypical poster child. But you know, women do understand the offside rule. And the away goal rule. And anything else that traditional male football fans do.
This isn’t the first time I’ve written about women and football fandom. And with any luck, it won’t be the last: I’m applying for a fellowship to travel abroad for one year, to study the politics of gender in European football fandom – specifically, by recording the experience of female football fans. I’m talking about female fans – traditional and non-traditional – in the highly masculine arena of professional men’s football.
Look through any Top 10 or Top 100 list of best football books. You’ll find maybe two books that have anything to do with women, and neither of those will be about female fans. “But there aren’t that many books about fans in general,” you argue. Well, yes. Except no. Just off the top of my head – Fever Pitch, How Soccer Explains the World, Bloody Confused, The World is a Ball… But if you want to know about them wimminfolk who love this beautiful game? Good luck. There are a couple of articles, there are one-off incidents you hear about in the news, and as for the rest, look to. the. blogosphere.
I’ve met so many strong, intelligent, passionate women whose voices as fans and supporters are simply not recognized. Not all of us are traditional fans, sure. But we all love the game. I have met women who came to football on their own, alone and far from the clubs and leagues they support; and I have met women who are third, fourth, fifth generation supporters of a club whose colors run as deep as blood in their veins.
I’m talking about you – you, who have offered me support and shared your kindness and passion for this sport. You, who have moved me and inspired me and humbled me beyond words. You, whom I reach out to now.
These stories – our stories – are ones worth telling. Because until we listen, we can’t presume to know. So I’d like to give a voice to all of us, the female fans – marginalized, disregarded, embedded deep into the fabric of football culture. Women love football, too. We deserve a chance to tell the world how, and why.
So here’s why I’m writing this post: to ask for your help. I’m proposing to travel to Spain, Germany, and Italy (or possibly Turkey) to pursue this study. As such, here are my top three concerns:
1. Places to stay. A couch, a floor. A spare room. I will have a modest stipend: not enough to find a place on my own, but enough to share a flat or cover utility costs or however else you’d like to be compensated. I promise to be an unobtrusive roommate. And I can cook!
2. Translators. You wil be paid, and as generously as my stipend allows. I am moderately competent in Spanish, but I can’t speak a word of German, and my Italian stretches about as far as “…hey, that kind of looks like the Latin word for _____.” If you are bilingual in German, Italian, and/or Spanish (or Turkish) and may be able to help out in this project, let me know! No concrete commitments needed – I just want to get a sense that this might be possible.
3. Contacts with fans, fan groups, etc. The cornerstone of my project, obviously. Names, pubs, phone numbers, emails, twitters, whatever. If you are/know of female fans who want to be heard, hit me up.
If you can help in any way, or want to see my full project proposal, send me an email: email@example.com. Or DM me on twitter: @mimsicality. Or drop a comment!
And even if you can’t do anything listed above, I’d ask that you help by signal-boosting. Share this with your followers, your friends, whatever. Every little bit helps. And every little bit means the world to me.
Thanks for your time,
P.S. Since someone just pointed this out to me (and I’m a derp for omitting it) – TENTATIVE TRAVEL TIMELINE:
- GERMANY : August 2013 – November 2013
- SPAIN: December 2013 – March 2014
- ITALY/TURKEY: April 2014 – July 2014