Football: How it Feels to be a Female Fan

‘Girls don’t like football’, or rather ‘girls don’t understand football’ is one that gets me every time.

Whilst we’re in an era of a powerful movement of female equality and ridding of man-sized tissues – because girls like big tissues too – us footy supporting girls are still faced with surprise when we say we support X football team.

My boyfriend backs me up whenever someone male looks blankly at me when I join in the football chat. “Laura’s a Leeds fan – she goes to all the home games,” he’ll say proudly, which I do appreciate because, y’know, he’s got my back.

But it’s almost as if he’s second-guessing what the someone male is thinking and he’s assuring them that it’s okay, Laura does know what she’s talking about –she can join in.

I don’t believe this would happen with any other subject matter

If I put my opinion across about Trump’s America, whether we should wear a poppy on Remembrance Day or the on-screen chemistry between Lady Gaga and Bradley Cooper – nobody would question my interest with a blank look or one of surprise.

My boyfriend wouldn’t jump in and say “Laura takes an interest in current affairs, don’t worry lads.” That’s just stupid! But because it’s football it’s almost off limits unless a male says it’s okay.

Which, isn’t really okay.

To be fair to the guys, most of my girlfriends are not football fans. And some men may find it surprising that a girl understands the offside rule – I mean girls can vote these days too. But it’s not a case of having to defend myself in a heated debate about why my opinion matters too, because I think we’re past that, it’s the look, the surprise and the occasional quizzing of my knowledge – with the worst one being “Oh you think you know football? What’s the offside rule, then?”


I’ve been used to this my whole life, so it isn’t really something I’ve thought about in depth until I’ve recently been thinking about how I’ve been affected by the imbalance of our genders. I would start explaining the offside rule, like it’s textbook, but I need to question why I’m doing that? It’s pretty insulting, I mean what male has ever been asked this? They think it’s just the universal language just for them. But guess what fellas – we are bilingual.

I was born a Leeds United fan, my brother and I didn’t have a choice in our household, it was just what we were and as definite as our names. I can’t remember my first game, because I’ve been going since I was about four or five, but I’ve never ever felt any kind of sexism at a game, because, we are Leeds – it’s a family. And also, obviously, I like football I’m at a game. It’s probably experienced out of context. Maybe when I should be out shopping or getting a facial with the girls at the weekend.

About gender equality…

I don’t know about anyone else, but I am confused about gender equality. Yes, I want to be treated as an equal and fairly, but also with respect AND like a lady. I like that my boyfriend holds the door open for me, but sometimes I hold it open for him. He takes out the bins at our house, but sometimes I take out the bins.

My grampy was the ultimate gentleman, at games, he would glare at fans who’d swear and call the ref a fucking wanker.

He’d embarrass me by saying “There’s a lady here” – I mean I appreciated his respect for me and love that he felt my ears were too precious for such words, but at the same time, I’d been brought up on these terraces. I would be shouting the ref’s a wanker too, but I wouldn’t in front of him because I respected him not because ‘I’m a lady’ – but because I’m a lady who can choose to swear or choose not to swear.

That’s the way I see it anyway.

In school, we always knew the teachers swore and they knew we swore, but we’d never swear in front of each other – I think it’s that kind of respect.

With my dad it’s different. He treats me the same as he would my brother, there’s no censorship there or inadvertent sexism to not swear in front of me or judge me for swearing because he treats me as equal – my grampy just had different values and was from a different era and these times are changing.

Times are changing…

And they are changing, I’m not saying I’m battling in a sexism war every day begging the boys to allow us to take part, it’s just *that* surprise I’m a girl who loves football.

As the woman’s game becomes more respected and accepted and the number of female journalists within sport, not just football increases, the gap WILL become smaller and eventually close.

For now

I’ll continue my eye roll when I’m faced with that astonishment that I have female anatomy and like football.

My boyfriend can fight my corner – because he treats me as a football fan, a lady and an equal and I think he does enjoy a boast that we can stay in all day and watch Super Sunday together.


  1. 19/11/2018 / 7:36 pm

    My wife was a football fan before I was. After we met, we held season’s tickets for 40 years. Nobody then or now could or can deny she is a fan and knows the game. I think the whole thing (female football fan, female current affairs fan or female swearing aficionado)comes down to respect. Equal respect for everyone, not respect based on gender, race or physical appearance. There is too little respect for others these days.

    • Laura Swire
      20/11/2018 / 10:28 am

      I think so too… we should all learn to be more respectful of each other. Thanks for your insight 🙂

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