Today we have a guest post from our friend Marie! Marie is crazy about soccer, but would prefer that you refer to it as football. Although Marie is an avid supporter of Clube de Portugal (the Portugal National Football Team), her favorite WAG is Sylvie van der Vaart. She lives in Brooklyn with her husband and her pit bull, Mama, who loves doughnuts and is the boss of you.
I love soccer. I also love my husband, and, by the way, he’s a great catch. Because of all this, I was really disturbed by Major League Soccer writer Simon Borg’s comments during an official MLS podcast.
It’s fine if you’re a female and you want to be a super-fan. Clearly go for it, that’s your choice. But there is something to be said for how appealing that might be to the other sex. Having a woman that’s such a fan, like painting your face, tuning in to every podcast. I don’t know how many males would be into that.
It’s great that in Kansas City there are a lot of women in the stands, it’s great, but for the guy who wants maybe a serious relationship… If you are following just casually, but if you’re such a die-hard, I don’t know, it comes a point that it is a bit of a turn-off.
I red card Mr. Borg for the following reasons:
1. What does gender have to do with being a soccer fan? About as much as Fernando Torres’ impact at Chelsea FC before his recent drought-break: nothing. Sure as a heterosexual female, it’s nice to watch sweaty men with great physiques lunge around. I will definitely admit that. But, come on, that’s not soccer-specific. And while Mario Gomez is one heck of a hunk, he’s certainly not enough for: a restless night’s sleep worrying about tomorrow’s match; risking reprimand at work for sneaking a match live in your cubicle; “Is my DVR working because I can’t get away with a live match at work?” anxiety; “Thank God for a weekend match” glued to the screen viewing, flailing and screaming for 90+ minutes; decorating your home, workspace, pet, and self in your team’s regalia with pride; and starting all over again with eager anticipation for the next match. (Since I do not live in the same country as my favorite teams, I can only imagine how much more intense my behavior would be for live games.) None of these behaviors are gender-specific, so if you approve or disapprove of them, you should do so for both genders.
While soccer has not had much popularity in the US, die-hard soccer fans abroad are die-hard because believing in the success of their club or nation is a matter of history, family, and community. Women are entitled to share in that pride and outwardly show support for teams that represent who they are to the same intensity as men. I red card Mr. Borg for telling me the love I have felt for soccer, engrained in me from my family and heritage, should be demonstrated differently because I am a woman.
2. What does being a soccer fan do to a woman’s attractiveness to potential partners and success in serious relationships? About as much as gaining a penalty kick in the 89th minute of a tied match: GOOOOOOOOLLLLLLL and win. I am in a serious relationship with a man who loves sports, as many men do. I have no interest in either American football or baseball but my husband loves both. When I feel frustrated by my husband’s football and baseball viewing, I remember that this is how I feel about soccer and let my negative feelings go. My husband finds it attractive that I understand his love of sports and concepts such as athleticism, sportsmanship, and competition. He finds it attractive that I care about my heritage and therefore the teams and players that represent where I come from. He knows that with the constant matches, transfers, suspensions, and injuries within soccer, a true fan needs constant updates and he appreciates my efforts to stay informed. To be honest, I’m not sure if I could have “snagged” and “kept” him if I didn’t have an understanding of his die-hard fanhood for his teams that only comes from being a die-hard myself.
As our marriage progresses, we are grateful for the things we have in common and even more so for the things that excite us both. Soccer provides such common ground and thanks to league matches and international tournaments we have plenty to get excited about. When I get one of the previously mentioned updates, we have something to talk about and debate. And, come on, you know the elation you feel when your team wins? Or after watching a dramatic game full of fouls, cards, and hard-earned goals? Take it to the bedroom. And prolong your post-coitus cuddle by discussing match highlights. Tell me what that does for your attractiveness and relationship. But not Mr. Borg, he’s suspended from his next match with a red card.
3. What do an MLS employee’s comments like these do for the MLS? About as much as John Terry’s extracurriculars had on the ENT in the 2010 World Cup: alienation that he cannot afford. The MLS is struggling. While fans are showing interest in some teams, the MLS is nowhere near the behemoth that is the European leagues. Fans mean tickets, tickets mean sponsors, sponsors mean league money. Why on earth would a MLS employee discourage fans from being fans? Alienating female fans means fewer fans, which means less money for your job, Mr. Borg, and a big fat red card out the MLS door.
Since Marie wrote this, MLS announced that Borg has been suspended for seven days and ordered to attend sensitivity training. While it’s ridiculous that someone in such a position would be so unevolved, at least Borg’s comments came at an expense, thanks in part to responses by Women’s United FC, a female ESPN soccer correspondent, Jezebel, and other blogs.