Writer Natasha Wynarczyk explains why this year's World Cup is getting her riled up...
My name is Natasha, and I’m a football fan. I’ve supported Newcastle United since I can remember, thanks to my season-ticket owning Dad’s sense of pride. We even spent the summer of ’98 playing a FIFA World Cup tournament on the Playstation, which I of course won (sorry, Dad!)
I know the offside rule, I’m a member of a fantasy footy league, I’ll willingly watch my boyfriend’s beloved Watford FC at their ground and of course, I’ve been buzzing for the upcoming World Cup matches.
Yet, even though it’s 2014, you’d be forgiven for thinking I’m not the norm. Every time any major football tournament rolls around, it seems that everywhere I look society's attempting to teach me the ‘proper’ way to behave as a woman.
Instead of heading to the pub with my mates to catch the game, I’m supposed to be a ‘football widow’, doomed to spend the summer alone, starved of attention from my other half. I’m meant to be swotting up on ridiculously insulting basic phrases to enhance my chances of becoming ‘one of the lads’ and learning how to ‘blag my way through’ the tournament.
There's the antiquated TV ads which play on the trope of the nagging wife and even a phone network that recently rolled out ‘WAG pods’ where women could go and use ‘female-friendly’ devices, whatever they are.
But it’s not just the odd advert or PR stunt that’s perpetuating this notion. The football world has to shoulder some of the blame for how women are viewed during the World Cup. Football is still viewed as being very much a man’s game. Not surprising, when the famous players, managers and execs are all male.
But surely that doesn’t mean that women can’t enjoy or become experts in the beautiful game? A few days ago, media group Women in Journalism tweeted an expose claiming they’d only found, wait for it, TWO female UK journalists being sent to cover the World Cup. Many experts were left in the UK, in favour of their male counterparts.
Depressingly, but unfortunately not unsurprisingly, the WIJ tweeters were told by some that ‘women don’t want to hear or read women’s opinions on football’ and ‘why would a woman report on a man’s game anyway’.
@WIJ_UK men don't want to hear or read women's opinions on football. It's that simple.— Matt Geraghty (@mattgerghty_197) June 9, 2014
It seems sadly, despite a female fight-back, we still have a long way to go. This deep-seated misogyny has got to change, and it can’t just be women’s voices leading the way.