The Women’s World Cup has come to an end with USA taking home the prize. Haven’t not seen an awful lot of the women’s game, I thoroughly enjoyed the event and the games kept me on the edge of my seat (particularly the Scotland v Argentina game). Although the game is not as quick and as fast paced as the men’s game, the style of football is easy on the eye and the technical ability is very high. The majority of teams pass their way out of trouble and there is very little punt and chase which you will regularly see at my level (sadly a style suited to my footballing attributes).
There was so much to cherish about Scotland at this world cup, the positivity in the camp, Erin Cuthbert, running England close and the dignity displayed by the team in post match pressers. No bitterness, despite some debateable decisions going against them is something you love to see. I enjoyed the English team being as equally annoying and detestable as their male counterparts, the Jamaicans shithousery, the Americans counter attacking play, Hope Solo bodying people, the standard of goals, Alex Morgan tea celebration, bloody VAR. What’s not to like? Opens Twitter…
Twitter has been my go to place for reactions on the games, it is a world I love dearly yet there is no other platform with such a lack of nuance. You are either for something or against something and have to tie your colours to the mast on every issue with no room for discussion. There are those who believe the women’s game is excellent, stupendous, tremendous and beyond criticism and then there are those that call it shit, laughable and leap onto any mistake made to say it is representative of the game as a whole.
Sadly, I have been disappointed by the reaction of many of my peers within and outside the game. There has been a patronising, negative view from a high quantity of “lads”. I lean more towards the view that the women’s game is going in a positive direction. I think the standard of play has been good, there has been a lack of gamesmanship and players have used the enhanced spotlight to target wider issues. However, that does not mean you can’t criticise the team. Scotland were naïve when chucking away a 3-0 lead by bombing forward and the standard of refereeing has been an embarrassment, admittedly negatively influenced by VAR. Despite this, the positives far outweigh the negatives.
It saddens me to see some of my peers needlessly slate the women’s game as if they feel threatened. They are quick to highlight any mishap and bad bit of play and tell the world and I have seen people offended by 3 girls on the panel at a game with no man, accompanied by something witty like “equal rights eh”. There has been an incredibly defensive dismissive attitude by some in the men’s lower league game as if they are threatened by it. Worryingly it has come from guys who I know are bright genuine guys yet their defensiveness is astonishing to me.
The view of these individuals tends to be summed up by the negative view of Golden Ball winner Megan Rapinoe. In some quarters she has been painted as arrogant, unpatriotic and disrespectful – I’m not seeing it. Megan Rapinoe has epitomised the winning mentality, fought for equality and showed absolute disregard for Donald Trump (something we can all get on board with). She has been accused of attention seeking, maybe a fair accusation, however is she any more attention seeking than the much lauded and adored characters like Conor Mcgregor, Floyd Mayweather or Zlatan Ibrahimovic. Is it because she is a woman? I would suggest so. I would also suggest that the person who shares a negative attitude of Rapinoe, is also a fan of Piers Morgan, Tommy Robinson, Donald Trump and gammon.
She may have spouted some nonsense such as:
“You can’t win a tournament without gays, it’s not been done before – that’s science right there”
it is utter twaddle to suggest sexual orientation has anything to do with winning matches of football. However you don’t have to agree with everything she says to admire her positive impact.
Last year when taking the school football team, there was one girl who wanted to take part in the after school football but as she was the only girl she opted out. You could tell she was intimidated by the heavy ratio of boys and understandably became disillusioned and dropped out. This year it has been different, I’ve been lucky to see the positive impact it has had on young girls. The coverage of the world cup and Scotland’s involvement has caught the eye of both boys and girls that I teach. I’ve enjoyed talking football with the students and I have seen one or 2 more girls at the after school football sessions I take.
Although only anecdotal, the heightened coverage has inspired the next generation of girls coming through. Let’s not ruin it with ignorant views like “haw wimin are shite at football, get them in the kitchen”. It isn’t PC gone mad to ask for a little bit more positivity.
4 thoughts on “Attitude to the Women’s Game”
I feel like digging Rapinoe out for that specific comment is a wee bit unfair given she was responding to a question about whether it being Pride month made her performances more personally significant for her. Nor do I think she was suggesting it was the reason they were a team of winners, more that she was just proud of how inclusive her team is. You didn’t include a specific example of a comment made by any of the ‘peers’ you were disappointed in so to criticise Rapinoe for that seems harsh.
Nonetheless pretty much everything else was spot on (especially the bit about the English being detestable). Particularly heartening is the evidence that the increased coverage is having an effect, hopefully something that can be sustained. I enjoy reading your blog (and listening to your podcast!) and it is very refreshing to know someone involved in the Scottish game has views like yourself. All for more nuanced discussion.
See your point, probably a bit harsh. Her comments probably taken out of context and perhaps a little tongue in cheek.
Really good and fair article Danny.
I agree with a lot of what you say. We took in the Scotland vs Jamaica friendly as a school trip and we were impressed with the style of play and the sporting manner in which the game was played. In the World Cup, there were a number of positive performances from some very technically gifted players such as Erin Cuthbert and Caroline Weir to name a few. Players who can be role models to both boys and girls, not just girls. Indeed, my nephew was so impressed with Cuthbert as he starts to get into football that he wanted to play like her.
However, for all the plaudits, of which there are deservedly many, if the women’s game is to be taken seriously, then it also needs to be analysed correctly. There was far too much flattery for my liking and not enough honest analysis. The Scotland GK for example let in several goals that a male GK such as Craig Gordon would be absolutely lambasted for. Nothing was ever made of this. Claire Emslie who was confident and creative, often lacked a final ball when under zero pressure and in promising positions. Again, if James Forrest did this, there would be derision from the stands and criticism voiced by pundits. On the flip side, I saw the England GK make a very routine save in which she should actually have caught it that was described as ‘excellent goalkeeping’ in which a throwaway line about unjustified criticism of female goalkeepers was also launched in. The benchmarks being analysed against is either poor or deliberately bias.
Therefore, if respect for the women’s game is to continue to grow, the analysis also has to be fair and correct. There can be no more unwarranted flattery or comments made with rose tinted glasses. If a mistake is made, it has to be stated. Only with these increased and fair standards can the quality in the game also grow as respectable benchmarks are set.
Think you are bang on the money. Got to be held to high standards to ensure progress. Think it’s patronising and probably a case of deliberate bias.