Why Is ‘Sexy’ Always The Default When It Comes To Pictures Of Female Football Fans?

And here's how you can change that...

female football fans

by Georgia Aspinall |
Updated on

Google female football fan images and you’ll be met with an abundance of stereotypically beautiful women, stretching, screaming, looking generally fabulous but representative of about 1% of the entire female football fan community. Not only that, they’ll belong to articles titled ’10 Hottest Female Football Fans’, or ‘Most Beautiful Female Football Fans In The World’. Sigh.

It’s one of those eye-rolling, disappointed-but-not-surprised moments, because of course. OF COURSE women only fit into a male dominated sport when they appear as sexual objects. Despite women making up a third of attendees at Premier League matches, OF COURSE for them to be palatable in the male world of football, only the most stereotypically beautiful will be captured.

Try as we might to change the way women are portrayed by the media, there are still huge areas where more work needs to be done. This will be evidenced most from Thursday onwards, when the World Cup starts and media attention turns towards one of the biggest sporting events of the year. There’ll be images of men crying, families hugging, and only the most beautiful (by societies standards) women, most likely in as compromising a position as the photographers can catch them in.

Female football fans

Why? Because as is the case in many elements of society, only the most acceptably beautiful women are allowed to pursue typically male activities or have a voice. Only the most demure, white, cis-gendered, able-bodied, heterosexual, perfectly manicured feminists are listened to. In a heteronormative world, female football fans are only accepted by society if they’re palatable to men.

In reality, female football fans are much more diverse and are probably better represented by my 80-year old grandmother screaming ‘WHAT’S THE REF PLAYING AT?’ than current media depictions.

According to Dr. Stacey Pope, associate professor at Durham University, this all feeds into a larger narrative whereby female football fans have to constantly prove their status as an authentic football supporter. She told Grazia:

'I think all of these common stereotypes about women as lacking sporting knowledge, that they're only interested in the sexual attractiveness of star players, that they're not as passionate or committed, and then this media coverage just focusing on one type of female supporter, is reflective of these wider issues around women being perceived as always inferior to male fans.'

Essentially, photographers and media organisations need to stop focusing on one type of woman at the match, and look to the rest of the stadium where thousands of other diverse women are also authentically supporting the game, just as they do with men.

That’s why Carabao and This Fan Girl have launched the #WeAreFemaleFans campaign, putting together a photography collective of diverse female fans aiming to get them at the top of search engine results. The football sponsor and digital fan community are urging people to share articles about the campaign (including ones like this) in order to push the images up the ranks of Google and search engines alike, until they reach the top spot and change the way women are represented at the match.

Click through to see the images of female football fans Carabao and This Fan Girl want to top search engines...


Female Football Fans - Grazia

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Female Football Fans - Grazia

Female Football Fans - Grazia2 of 5

Female Football Fans - Grazia

Female Football Fans - Grazia3 of 5

Female Football Fans - Grazia

Female Football Fans - Grazia4 of 5

Female Football Fans - Grazia

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Female Football Fans - Grazia

‘This week the World Cup will kick off and be watched by millions of fans, male and female, yet it won’t be long before the cameras are focusing gratuitously on female fans in the crowd and soon those images will feature online’ said Anna Cooke, brand manager at Carabao, ‘our campaign wants to tackle this and profile all female football fans, whatever their age, shape or size. All you have to do is share a link and soon these images will rocket up online searches and see female fans represented in the same way as men.’

To find out more about the campaign, visit www.thisfangirl.com/carabao.

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