Well, footballistically – to borrow a phrase from one Mr Arsène Wenger – the past week has certainly been an interesting one. There have been no crunchingly controversial tackles, nor any bust-ups between feuding managers (no more than usual, anyway) but football fan or not, the events of the past seven days have brought us all plenty of talking points.
It started with an assistant referee who happened to not be a man. The horrors! It ended with one sacking and one resignation of two veterans of one of television’s most popular sports channels. I need name no names, you all know exactly what I’m talking about.
I’ve never been an assistant referee, nor have I ever had an actual paying job in sports journalism. No, I am but a mere 21-year-old student who writes a football blog in my spare time. I’m also a woman. Yes, a fully-paid up member of offside-ignorance club, one of those creatures who, according to some, are allowed to judge the looks of a Premiership player’s legs, but certainly not the skills of his right (or left) foot. I’ve been blogging on my team, Arsenal, for nearly a year now. When asked to write an article about being a woman in a blogger’s world, I was momentarily stumped.
Ninety per cent of feedback on my blog is supportive in some way. Of course there will be the odd moron who’ll disagree with something you’ve said and, instead of communicating their difference of opinion with words greater than a syllable in length, resort to name-calling and commenting in capital letters. On the whole, however, the words I receive consist of nothing more sinister than intelligent opinion. Then again, was I somewhat sexist in giving the blog a name that instantly tells the reader I’m female? I had assumed (and hoped) that people would see the name, be curious and head over to have a gander. I also assumed they’d expect to find posts on the hairstyles of our players and the shoes worn by their girlfriends.
That’s not what they’ll find at all, because I don’t really care about anything like that – not when there’s football to discuss first. Sometimes the typical ‘girliness’ will shine through when I get overly emotional reminiscing about the San Siro in 2008 or bursting into tears at the end of a particularly tense match with a great result, but in fairness I’ve seen plenty of men cry over football as well! The one thing I do experience fairly often is people suggesting I am only fond of certain players because I fancy them. For example, I am very supportive of Nicklas Bendtner. I could defend him all day when people say “He’s never been good enough” because it angers me that people forget how many hugely important goals he scored for us last season and how happy they are to lay all of the blame at his door when we’ve witnessed a collectively poor team performance.
But because he’s also tall and blond and 23, people often accuse me of only liking him because of the way he looks. I can’t see a male getting any of that, but it doesn’t bother me. I just launch into one of my lengthy rants listing all the reasons he will be great for Arsenal (it’s well-practiced by now) and end it by telling them the truth: that I prefer dark-haired men anyway!
The woman behind the hugely popular LadyArse blog says: “It’s a very lazy way to try and insult a female football blogger. They should get a bit more creative if they want to stand out.” Which is exactly what it is. There is no argument more boring than the argument that women can’t like football.
While I’ve been fortunate enough to avoid anything overtly sexist so far in my bloggery, I’d get over it pretty quickly if I did. I write about football because I love it and hope to be writing about it for a long time. I’ll always be female while doing this but I figure if I make sure I’m good enough at it, it won’t matter if I’m male, female or a hippopotamus. I’d offer the same advice to all other women writing, or considering writing, their own football blog too. People criticising the quality of my blog might bother me. People criticising me because I’m a woman, can take a hike.
Written by Sian Ranscombe