This Is A Man’s World. Really?

As long as I’ve been a football enthusiast I have been mocked by men for getting into a ‘men’s sport’ that I could possibly not understand, and I’m sure I’m not the only girl who has experienced it.

Women are stereotypically ignorant about sports, which I can agree with. Most women really aren’t interested in masculine sports, including football.

But things are changing and we can spot more women wearing football shirts and supporting their favoured teams in football stadiums.

Those who say these women do not understand football are either taking the piss, or for some weird reason believe women’s brains are not built to understand the offside rule if they took a 60-hour course, or they are plainly stupid.

Everyone who watches football long enough will start understanding the rules and it doesn’t depend on anyone’s gender. When Sian Massey, the poor victim of Richard Keys’ and Andy Gray’s accusations, passed all her tests to become a referee, was the offside rule question left out? I don’t think so. Was she appointed just to fill the quota? Do me a favour, love.

Sexism in football is an issue that would have come to prominence sooner or later. We needed an example, and Richard Keys and Andy Gray gave us one. As Amanda, who has been an avid Chelsea supporter for most of her life, pointed out, there are accounts of such instances in other leagues where commentators have questioned lineswomen’s abilities when they actually haven’t got their decisions wrong, and nothing was said about the commentators’ accusations. English Premier League football is one the most popular sports in the world, so the Keys/Gray scandal could not have been left unnoticed.

But do I think the decision to sack Keys and Gray based on what they said about Sian Massey and Karren Brady is fair? No, although their stupid commentaries in most games are a good enough reason for sacking. They said what thousands of other men have said for a laugh, and I believe Keys and Gray were doing just that – having a laugh.

We all make sexist jokes; even I do, on both men’s and women’s account. Some fans have said that if a female correspondent had made a sexist joke about men, no one would have said anything. I don’t see that happening; she would be in just as much trouble, and would deserve a punishment just like Keys and Gray did.

What I do recognise is that the dynamic duo were joking at the wrong place and at the wrong time. A professional commentator should never publicly express an attitude that could be regarded as prejudice. Therefore, a heavy fine and suspension would have been an appropriate action.

I understand they didn’t realise they were still on air, but this is never an excuse. Caution, lads, caution! Instead of pointing out that Sian Massey is a woman, Keys and Gray should have been praising her for making the right decisions, which sometimes even male referees fail to do. Had she made a major mistake, she could have been fairly criticised, but she didn’t. And even then, gender should be left out of discussion.

I didn’t take personal offence on what Keys and Gray said, and as it turns out, neither did many other female footy fans. Some of the girls I have spoken to about this affair said that initially they laughed. A lot of us can take a bit of banter and we sometimes make jokes in regard to our own gender as well. The same thing applies to the Keys and Gray saga.

Even though their remark about Sian Massey’s (in)ability to call an offside did sound like an innocent offence, the situation had to be blown up to avoid gender prejudices in the future. I can imagine the story might have pissed off feminist groups.

I recently took a class about British feminist writers in uni, and wow, some of these writers really seem to hate men. As an old-fashioned, or should I say, realistic girl I will never entirely agree with the feminist views but I appreciate what they have achieved for our sakes. The angrier they get, the more cautious men have to become.

Karren Brady has expressed her feelings over the derogatory comments about her and Miss Massey; “It makes my blood boil, if I’m absolutely honest… I have heard it and I don’t believe it is just banter.”

If Brady is right and Keys and Gray really believe their own words, they must be two of the dumbest commentators alive. But I reckon it is silly to believe that a professional commentator would not acknowledge that a professional referee can do her job right. That makes Brady look stupid. Sorry for that, Karren. I understand you’re more sensitive about it than I am, I really do.

One thing did offend me though – the reaction of people towards this situation. It has created discussions among men who have started to share their own negative opinions about female footy fans. Some of them praise Keys and Gray, perhaps jokingly, I wouldn’t know. Those ‘Get back in the kitchen’-jokes have also become a more frequent sighting since.

Danielle, another True Blue, shared her experience with me. She had a discussion with a male fan who believed that women and men should be segregated in football, which means that women should not referee men’s games; however, they are allowed to watch the games. Why thank you, sir, for giving us your kind permission!

The whole thing worked out fine for Sian Massey though – she turned into a legend overnight. Her good work was recognised, perhaps more than it would have if Keys and Gray hadn’t caused that scandal. I hope to see more of her in Premier League games.

A lot of men seem to find it positive that women are getting into football. Perhaps it’s because then women will understand their enthusiasm better and won’t pester their husbands and boyfriends for not taking them on a Valentine’s Day date because Chelsea are playing Fulham away.

I’m also sure that deep inside most of them still take women as less knowledgeable in football than men. In most cases it’s true but men shouldn’t assume it is. Jaymee, a committed Chelsea fan, says that her love for Chelsea has attracted guys to get into football, while it’s normally the other way around.

Danielle is more fanatic about football and Chelsea than any guy in her area, and turned her husband into a footy fan as well. I used to believe that girls know nothing about football even when they watch a few games every 2-4 years. That was until I met a lot of real female fans who truly understand the game and whose knowledge can match that of any guy.

Annely can be found at

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