Women and the World Cup

The 2010 World Cup in upon us and with it a host of things to keep a critical eye upon. I’ve written before that women are rarely perceived to sports fans or knowledgeable about “real”  (i.e., men’s professional) sports, even though both are true.

I’m keeping my eye on how female fans of the World Cup are being included, erased and portrayed in the media. I have two contrasting examples to share.

1. The first is a page on Deadspin dedicated to “sexy world cup fans” (i.e., scantily clad women). The narrative accompanying the photos suggests the featured attractive women in attendance could not possibly be real fans, but planted there as marketing ploys. I’m not naive enough to believe this doesn’t happen, but the text is offensive. The author insinuates that women would not attend a World Cup game possibly because they enjoy and know the game, but were paid to attend. You would never see pictures of sexy male fans and text that implied they were planted…would you?

2. The second is a Portuguese ad that suggests women do enjoy and know soccer. It is a nice contrast to how female fans are usually portrayed. As Jezebel.com points out, this ad is in nice contrast to the 2010 Super Bowl ads that insinuate that women ruin the lives of men.

If you have anything to share along these lines, please comment here or send it my way!

One Reply to “Women and the World Cup”

  1. A response to this post as well as the blip at the end of the post on 6/23:

    In defense of the massive media coverage of men’s soccer recently, the broadcasting of the world cup in this capacity is an incredible step for our sport in this country. The time devoted to soccer in general will only increase interest in this international game overall. Though this is true, and accounts for this month’s massive increase in men’s soccer media, I would agree the gender gap is overly skewed on any normal month.

    What bothers me most about the world cup media in relation to gender inequalities is the division in the commentating profession. While former male professionals announce and commentate for this world cup, (not to mention throughout the year for the limited women’s games on tv), Julie Foudy (the most prominent female commentator in the sport) has been shown only doing the public interest and social change segments broadcasted by ESPN. Providing a cultural history of South Africa, acknowledging apartheid, and using soccer in the social change movement are wonderful things to promote surrounding the World Cup. So why can’t we have Lalas do a bit of that and let Foudy give us a different, perhaps better, perspective on the game every now and then?


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