I am sick of football right now and not because Brazil lost 7×1. I am sick of its exclusionary attitude towards minorities and the aspects that reinforce the heteropatriachy standards of society. I am sick of seeing the international media making fun of players crying, of homophobic slurs being thrown around because supporters can’t come up with anything better, of women being shown on TV purely because of their looks.
A couple of years ago I wrote about how the concept of masculinity represses the emotions of men for the sake of enforcing power over women. Men are supposed to be the strongest, the bread-winners, better and more capable than women. They’re supposed to hold it together in situations where, if a woman breaks down, it is acceptable. This hurts men.
It’s not ‘embarrassing’ to cry. If you think that, you have warped ideas of humanity and compassion. Crying is human, especially when losing at home with a score of 7×1 in an incredibly controversial tournament in a country full of poverty. In a country where thousands of people were removed for the sake of football stadiums that will barely be used in the future.
It is incredible pressure to win a World Cup at home and the emotional states of the Brazilians were understandable. It makes me rage when things like this become banter because it makes football exclusionary.
It is why the stigma of ‘softness’ often descends into homophobia and sexism. In these aspects football is perhaps the most delayed sport in the world. In the US a few gay men have recently come out of the closet – Michael Sam and Derrick Gordon for example. This is progress, despite the onslaught of harassment they got after their courageous actions.
Why is that? Because any kind of softness and femininity is considered ‘embarrassing’ or ‘gay’. And guess what? The slurs you shout in the stadium make LGBT persons uncomfortable, excluding them from the matches for fear of violence or anger to hear words like ‘f*g’ be thrown around like it’s the worst thing ever.
This is also closely linked to why women often feel excluded from football. They are women so they have to prove they know what the offside rule is or know more football trivia than men to prove they are ‘real fans’.
It doesn’t help that Sepp Blatter, president of FIFA, thinks the key to making female sport more appealing is women showing more skin.
“They could, for example, have tighter shorts,” he said. “Female players are pretty, if you excuse me for saying so, and they already have some different rules to men – such as playing with a lighter ball. That decision was taken to create a more female aesthetic, so why not do it in fashion?”
Carrie Dunn, football fan, academic and author of the book Female Football Fans, thinks this is the kind of thing that makes football an unwelcome environment for women.
She told Jezebel: “Basically because men’s football is so very male-dominated in the stands (and in its administration (…) and its media (…) but that’s another story) female fans tend to be very wary of doing anything that makes them stand out as “female” or “feminine”. So that means they’ll wear trousers to games, not skirts; flat shoes, not heels; they won’t wear too much make-up; they don’t want to be accused of what you’re saying – that they’re there to look at the boys, not to watch the football. It’s almost as if this gendered/sexualised element of watching football would detract from how much you enjoy the sport.”
Football is incredibly exclusionary, sexist, homophobic and racist. You can prize the players on the pitch for having sportsmanship but the problems go way beyond the pitch. I am incredibly tired of seeing these ‘isms’ so intricately woven into football. It ruins the game for anyone who is not a white, cisgender, straight dude – but sure keep enforcing the heteropatriarchy because that’s what makes you comfortable.
“I wanted to give happiness to my people, who suffer for so many things so I ask for forgiveness.” – David Luiz
PS: Not all football fans.
PS2: Click here to support my project to change the face of Brazilian women around the world.