Sexism in Football & Respecting the Women’s Game

Sexism in Football & Respecting the Women’s Game

By now we’ve all become familiar with the many crimes that FIFA have been accused of: bribery, corruption, exploitation. Yet the one that can be argued to occur most rampantly is the one that we all seem to forget: sexism (writes Maryam Naz).

To the likes of Sepp Blatter and co, when it comes to football, it is a man’s world, and it would be better without women’s involvement.

It only takes one second of Googling ‘sexism in football’ to come across quite a few controversial statistics that seemed to have slipped under FIFA’s radar.


For instance, the Brazilian ‘female Messi’ Marta earns €400,000 per year, compared to the more popular Lionel who earns around €40 million a year. If you do the maths accurately, Messi gains what Marta earns in an entire year in just under 4 days!

Now, if the pay gap wasn’t enough to astound you, then the media’s coverage of female football might just do it. For example, in 1998, 308 articles were written about the entirety of women’s football compared to 184 solely for Sir Alex Ferguson and 388 for Coventry City FC. It’s quite obvious to envisage a pattern emerging here: women in football are hardly recognised or supported for their contributions at all.

Yet if FIFA has noticed this pattern, they’ve been fooling everyone around them, feigning innocence and naivety, because otherwise Blatter wouldn’t have famously called for female footballers to wear ‘tighter shorts’ focusing on their appearance rather than their talent.

Would a man aware of the sexism prominent in football make such a statement?

With this in mind, and upon further research, I found out that despite being FIFA President since 1998, Sepp Blatter gave no woman a job or a post of authority in FIFA until 2013. If it took 15 years for a woman to be given a role of recognised status under his rule, then ask yourself this: would a man aware of the sexism prominent in football make such a decision?

The evidence piling against him is condemning, but what use is such evidence when those is power fail to do anything about it, when the NGB’s who are supposed to be promoting anti-sexism are all pro? After all, it was the FA who famously tweeted that the English senior women’s team would go back to being ‘mothers’, ‘partners’ and ‘daughters’ after being knocked out in the semifinal of the World Cup, suggesting that old habits die hard.

With sexism in football rising, killing the obvious talent and skill on show by our female footballers, the one thing we can do to help eradicate this issue is to watch them as much as we can, show as much of it as possible, rather than confining it to the late hours of ITV.

By doing so, we’re giving women the coverage and recognition they deserve, as well as shifting the male-dominated attitudes and beliefs that have come to consume modern day football.

Perhaps such a shift would have knock-on effects, who knows, more coverage may mean more media attraction, more sponsorship, more money, more female coaches and referees, and some day in the distant future, more respect.

Featured image by Anders Henrikson, used under the Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license.