Women are said to have come “a long way” in recent years, as if that were enough. As if it were the end of a historical discrimination that is still valid on the field, in the stands and in the institutions, as demonstrated by the non-consensual kiss from Luis Rubiales to Jenni Hermoso. Without discarding the undeniable steps taken, we must remember those that remain to be taken.
This is evidenced by the main conclusion of the report ‘Women at the match’ (‘Women in the matches’), carried out by the Football Supporters’ Association: 34% of women admit to having been the subject of sexist comments on the pitches. The percentage is still higher (44%) who have heard the phrase: “You know a lot about football for a woman”. In total, up to 63% of women claim to have experienced or witnessed some macho behavior in a men’s soccer match.
From removing iron to forceful denunciations
The Football Supporters’ Association (FSA) is an organization that operates in the United Kingdom and to which 500,000 members belong between fans and organizations. The data from this study was released at the European Fan Congress, which was also attended by the Spanish entity FASFE, comparable to the FSA, and which has released the data from this report.
The research collects the testimonials from 2,164 fans of all ages, both men’s and women’s soccer matches. It is an update of a report carried out in 2014, where 23% of the respondents stated that they had been the object of sexist comments, compared to 34%. This is largely due to the fact that the followers claim to have less tolerance for sexism than in 2014, when the first study was carried out.
While at that time 32% said they did not feel “normally” bothered by these attitudes, 15% now offer wide sleeves. In 2014, 24% even admitted that they laughed at the comments, a percentage that has dropped by half in the study update. Up to 10% said her anti-womanhood gestures in the stands were “part of the game day experience.” There are still 4% of followers who adhere to this category.
“You know a lot to be a woman”
The main sexist attitude denounced by the study participants is having heard “you know a lot about football for a woman”, something denounced by 44% of the fans. Up to 34% claim to have received discriminatory comments. 26% have endured being told that they are going to football “because they like the players” and not for sporting merits. Finally, 24% affirm that they have heard macho chants in the stands of which they were a part.
“Comparing the results with those of our survey in 2014, it is disappointing to see that sexist incidents are increasing across the board,” the FSA explains. Beyond the verbal, “20% of women say they have experienced ‘unwanted physical attention’ while attending men’s soccer, which is more than double our 2014 survey -8%-“.
However, Ally Simcock, a member of the FSA council and a Port Vale fan, believes that “it is encouraging to see the change in attitude of the fans in recent years, less likely to accept any type of sexist behavior or take it as a joke “.
Simcock highlights how “the #MeToo movement has helped change people’s perceptions of what can be tolerated and what is acceptable.” And he adds: “The FSA is clear: in football there is no place for sexist or misogynistic behavior. We encourage all fans to question them and report them to their club or authorities. Soccer has to be a safe and welcoming environment for all”.
Women’s football is a safer environment
‘Women at the match’ analyzes other issues that help compose a portrait of women who play football. Thus, for example, 70% of those surveyed admit that their first time in a field was with their family or parents, while couples appear as introducers in only 5% of cases.
Although they settle differences with the Women’s Football. The presence of women who have seen games of this modality before the age of 16 is barely a third (half that in the case of men’s football). The majority of those surveyed find women’s football at a different stage in life and do so out of firm conviction.
It is a very interesting variation from the point of view of the product and the future of the sport practiced by women. As demonstrated in the World Cup, the values that are transmitted are different from those of men. Naturalness is the dominant note in the attitudes of players who have gradually detached themselves from the stigmas associated with their game.
In fact, the conclusions for women’s soccer are more positive than those for men’s soccer. A much smaller proportion of fans report encountering sexist behavior at women’s matches and three-quarters (75%) say they have not heard sexist comments or chants or experienced “unwanted physical attention”.
Let the fans report
In addition to analyzing the problem, ‘Women at the match’ requests interventions or solutions from the followers, aware of their greater intervention to denounce the incidents that occur. The fan organization wonders if there is trust, both in the clubs and in the institutions.
Most fans are in favor of self-control: more than half call for other fans to challenge and censor sexist behavior. Likewise, there is full support for the teams that take the initiative, although a significant number of those surveyed do not trust the clubs. Only 10% of those who denounced sexist behavior saw how the employees of the entities took forceful measures.
Faced with inaction, the fans respond to this last question: “What should happen to people who have sexist behaviors?” 57% of the participants in the research request that the security managers of the equipment intervene. 47% request punishments such as expulsion from the club. 39% bet on their immediate expulsion from the stadiums and 22% directly request police intervention.