Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Macho Macho Men...

Fifa are beserk, obviously, we all know that. The tax thing, the political interference thing, the commercial protection thing, the, y'know, deaths. We know.

And Sepp Blatter has a bit of a reputation for being particularly beserk / berkish. And yet has strangely suggested that a slightly more egalitarian approach to football admin is warranted. Good round-up here.

Of course, he still referred to women as 'ladies', which mainly makes me want to pour myself a glass of dray wate wain, but hell, the corrupt old lizard may just have a point.

Now, there's 36 comments on that Guardian article at the time of writing, and pleasingly nobody has yet come out with the old "nobody watches women's football" line, with which we are all so familiar (although there's a couple of near misses and somebody referring to 'females'). But - and this is partly connected to Corinne Diacre having just managed her first game in men's professional football (away at Brest - that's either a hell of a coincidence or someone at the LFP scheduling office has #banter in his Twitter bio) and also to this wonderful article by Carrie Dunn - we know it's coming, and here's how to be prepared.

You know what's coming.

"Nobody watches women's football"

Factually incorrect.

I watch.

When I can - I mean, maybe the viewing figures are low because it is VERY RARELY ON THE TV. What am I supposed to do, employ a medium and plug them into a USB port? Employ a flock of midfield-diamond-familiar carrier pigeons? Pff. This is actually the same argument that impacts on a lot of football outside 'the top leagues' (I'd say 'TM' but there's so much commercial inequality between and within leagues re TV money that whatever) such that we talk also about 'football' and non-league football, African football, South American football, etc.  If it's not on TV nobody can watch it; if nobody watches it, it doesn't get on TV. That's fairly simple, if annoying, circular logic.

Anyway. There's a bunch of people who bang on about 'women' not being as fast or as strong or, I don't know, as tattooed or as arrested as the menfolk. This means they feel comfortable is sticking to the default set approach to football - that 'football' actually means men's football in a specific set of leagues, relegating those other footballs as, well, 'other'. Again, whatever. David Silva is 5'8, Wendie Renard is 6'1; Abou Diaby falls apart in a mild breeze, Chrissie Sinclair is nails - if you're going to use averages, be aware of their limitations. The average man has about as much to do with the average footballer as he has with the average racehorse.

The default set approach seems slightly more pronounced in football than other sports. After all, I can confidently refer to Serena Williams as 'a tennis player' and Paula Radcliffe as 'a marathon runner'. Somehow, I am expected to give Marta an adjective - which would be fine if that adjective was 'awesome'.

So, moving on - "Nobody Likes Women's Football".

Factually incorrect.

I do.

I like it. I love football. I love that shortly after some berk wrote that article about women's teams needing a man in goal (srsly, not even bothering to google that article, he doesn't deserve the hits), Nadine Angerer put in such a performance at the Euros that she won FIFA Women's World Player of the Year, the first goalkeeper to do so. I love that Pia Sundhage looks like she could equally be managing an infant school trip to an art gallery but is one of the most successful coaches around. I love that USWNT captain Abbie Wambach married one of her own midfielders while you lads are still working out if being gay is OK. I love that Fara Williams and Therese Sjögran are the most capped players ever for England and Sweden, that Birgit Prinz and Wambach are the top international scorers for Germany and the USA. I love that the newsflash "goal : Zidane; assist : Marta" has appeared on a stream I'm watching. I love Marie-Laure Delie's unbelievable goal against PSG in the 2012/13 season. I love Canada 3 - 4 USA in the semi-finals of the 2012 Olympics. I love that if you go see a women's football match at Mosson there are gaggles of little girls in football boots and shirts saying 'Lattaf'. I love that Corinne Franco went back to wearing 'Petit' on her shirt in January. I love Wolfsburg 4 - 3 Tyreso in the WCL last season. I love that Diacre was «quand même satisfaite» after Clermont's opening match. I love that Linda Bresonik makes Andrea Pirlo look rushed. I love that the Brazil national team features Barbara, Maurine and Daiane, and so sounds rather like my mother's table-tennis club. I love Silvia Neid and Sandrine Soubeyrand, Caroline Seger, Célia Okoyino da Mbabi and Verónica Boquete. I love that the U20 World Cup kicks off tonight and ooh Group B looks tricky.

So. Sepp Blatter may want more women in admin, and I'm a bit ambivalent about that because FIFA admin has a body count. But women are playing and managing and watching and writing about football. And that, I love.