A good few months ago I posted a profoundly provocative anti-football rant, cunningly disguised as a 5-part autobiography of the last seven years of my life, or vice-versa, or something, in which I wrote the following:
There is something about football that I haven’t mentioned yet, and it is something that these days gets very little attention. It concerns women and football.
Now there are many reasons why lots of women watch football. Some for the same reasons that men do – to see the occasional bit of spectacle that the sport offers, or because watching and following the game is usually a social thing. Some, it has to be said, are Uncle Toms, showing or developing an interest in it in order to please men.
Some women play football too, but like women’s boxing the professional game exists as a side-effect of men’s football. We don’t see it on TV, and it’s no accident that the best known player is the ex-wife of one of football’s leading men. And, like boxing, when it does get some coverage it is often just for the titillation of men. Women footballers, unlike their male counterparts, have no visibility and no power.
The fact remains; football, in terms of the sport we see on TV, the thing that is so often cited as one thing that unites all the people and peoples of the world, does not involve women at any level.
Among the many people keen to prove that I was, you know, as I so often am, wrong, were a couple of posters who pointed out that actually, in the United States the women’s game has a lot more prominence than the men’s sport, and that most American people would be more likely to be able to name a female player than a male one. It seems that in the land of the freeandthebrave, ‘soccer’ is something of a girl’s game.
Which is presumably why the all-male US team have not quite swept all before them in the Soccerball World Series so far. But it did give me something of an idea, which might stealthily transform the sport into one that actually involves women at some level:
Very simply, the USA should be allowed to field an all-female team in the – until now – exclusively male World Cup. This would increase the appeal of football back home, and would even things out a little in terms of fairness. It would reduce the chance of the world’s greatest superpower being humiliated quite so hilariously by their global rivals, and it might, without wishing to offend anyone here, make what is ultimately a fairly boring spectacle into one which is actually fun to watch.
There is of course a potential nightmare scenario, in that they might become so successful they actually win the thing; I have a feeling that if this were ever to come to pass, the sport of football would very quickly lose a lot of its appeal for most of the world’s population. But for the moment I think it’s definitely an idea worth exploring. Go Team USA!