Inside the world of female football fans

Meet the champions building a community of like-minded women

Like many arenas in life, football has always been considered as belonging to men: it is, after all, a world that has been historically dominated by male players, male commentators, and male supporters.

Until now.

Following on from the first FIFA Women’s tournament in 1988, and the subsequent first Female World Cup in 1991, there are now over 29 million women and girls playing football worldwide – and participation is growing rapidly.

The surge of our interest in football is particularly evident at matches, where more women than ever before can be found cheering on their team from the concrete benches, with a 2014 British Council study reporting that a not-insignificant 19% of fans at matches are women.

So just who are these female football fans? spoke to the founders of This Fan Girl, a project dedicated to celebrating the diversity (and all-round brilliance) of female football supporters, to investigate.

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We want to build a community for ourselves, our friends and other women just like us

Thankfully, violent scenes at matches in the UK are in an overall decline, with football-related arrests falling steadily over the past five years, and this is helping women become “louder, prouder and less apologetic for the fact they like football”. Equally, there has been a drop in sexism at matches, which is helping the cause even further.

“One Palace fan told us about her experiences through the 80s of men chanting obscenities at her, singing for her to get back in the kitchen and so on,” Blake recalled. “That mentality has definitely shifted.”

“Whenever we ask a female fan to get her picture taken when she’s with her dad or brother or partner, you can tell they’re so proud, and just absolutely beaming to share the match experience with that woman.”

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Drucquer also highlights how the growing encouragement for younger girls to become involved in football, and sports more generally, is helping shift the perception of women football fans into a more positive sphere – one that is without violence and sexism.

“From a school level, more emphasis and encouragement is being put on young girls to play football,” she said.

“Time and effort is being taken to maximise that interest in football from an early age, and it’s having a ripple effect.”

The sexist mentality has definitely shifted
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