2013 July | FREE

Archive the month of July 2013

July 24, 2013

Of Swearing, Pink Lions and Resistance

Post-conference reflexions by Post by Yağmur Nuhrat (Brown University)
and Başak Alpan (Middle East Technical University).

The FREE Conference in Copenhagen saw two days of pithy exchange on the multifarious phenomenon of women’s football – as players, fans, coaches, administrators, wives and girlfriends (not to mention football academics). One particular problematic seemed to arise continually without a concrete or fully convincing answer: How do or how should women cope with forms of hegemonic masculinity in a space which has traditionally been defined as a male realm? Should they actually?

The claw of a Danish football 'Lioness'. Pink, of course...

There was a near consensus among the conference papers about how football in general remains a ‘masculine space’. Moreover, various conference sessions seemed to depict football as a realm firmly under the reign of the socially hegemonic forms of masculine attitudes and behaviour (i.e. hetero-normative masculinity that allows certain masculine forms to dominate over other masculine or feminine forms).

There are certain (albeit limited) alternatives for women in terms of how they might exist in this space. The conference thus included various discussions on the notion of ‘resistance’, since resistance emerged as one of the more conspicuous choices for women who were confronted with hegemonic masculinity. However, when trying to identify possible forms of resistance, it seemed like the scholars concerned found themselves between two equally depressing choices:

a) Women resisting hegemonic masculinity by assuming hegemonic masculine roles themselves, thus perhaps (we would argue: not always) reinforcing hegemonic masculinity in society; and

b) Women resisting hegemonic masculinity by assuming ‘traditionally feminine’ roles in football to highlight the possibility of their presence in football as ‘essentially feminine’.

Post by : FREE-TEAM in the category : Feminisation, Posts - No comment

July 20, 2013

Three out of twelve

On 10 July twelve national teams were lined up for the final tournament of Women’s Euro2013 in Sweden. Only three of them were coached by female head coaches: the host country itself (Pia Sundhage), England (Hope Powell), and Germany (Silvia Neid).

Three out of twelve: Silvia Neid, Pia Sundhage, Hope Powell.

In other words: 75% of Europe’s best women’s national teams are still coached by men. This is even more than at the World Cup 2011 in Germany, where ‘only’ two thirds of the head coaches were male.

Post by : Albrecht Sonntag in the category : Feminisation, Posts - No comment

July 10, 2013

From footnote to headline

On the opening day of Euro2013 in Sweden, a guest contribution by Kamila Grześkowiak, master student in anthropology at Adam Mickiewicz (Poznań), who is currently completing her master thesis on gender perception in women’s football.
Kamila can be contacted under kamgrzeskowiak@gmail.com

All over June, Polish sports media seemed to be doing business as usual. Which means they were almost exclusively writing about Robert Lewandowski. First about his hypothetical transfer to Bayern (or why not Real or Barcelona). As they had no idea about what was happening, they were mainly quoting German newspapers.

Then they moved to Lewandowski’s wedding. His beautiful wife. His suit by a famous designer. His guests. ‘Lewandowski’s wedding without Piszczek and Blaszczykowski!’, one internet headline screamed. Having no information in what club he was going to sign with, they titled ‘Lewandowski signed the contract of his life’.

There's more to European women's football than Germany and Scandinavia: the Polish U-17 girls are celebrating their first European trophy.

‘Fighting without strong support is very hard’, one of my friends, a female football player, once said. But despite the lack of support, our girls won the final against Sweden. Let’s be clear about it: coach Zbigniew Witkowski created a team that coach Waldemar Fornalik, head of the men’s national team, can only dream about: playing for passion, not for money. It made me think how awesome our female football teams could be if only the Polish Football Association, the sponsors and the fans treated them seriously. Will this recent success change anything? Well, at least, it brought the girls into the newspaper headlines. Now everyone in Poland knows that excellent European women’s football is not only played in Germany and Scandinavia.

No need to interpret too much into this event. But it’s a more than welcome signal in a society that is still dominated by patriarchal thinking. The media echo to the girls’ triumph confirms the findings of my field research: female football slowly begins to be reconsidered, it starts to be no longer regarded as a kind of ‘oxymoron’, but more as an interesting alternative.

Post by : GUEST in the category : Feminisation, Posts - No comment

July 2, 2013

Inside Taksim Square: a football revolution?

Much has been said & written  about the role played by football fans in the protests that have taken place on Taksim square in Istanbul. As I was in the city for the two days of the Sport&EU 2013 conference. I decided to go and have a first-hand look at the situation on Taksim and the FREE blog is the ideal place to report.

I was standing a few feet away from this woman (off http://occupygezipics.tumblr.com/) when the picture was taken.

I was standing a few feet away from this woman (off http://occupygezipics.tumblr.com/) when the picture was taken.

Saturday 29 june, 4.30pm: I arrive on Taksim square. Fascinating: I have absolutely nothing to report. There are tourists and passers by, construction work is happening on one side of the square but there is strictly no sign of any organised form of protest. Many Turks I have met since arriving in Istanbul have indeed warned me: protests have died and nothing is happening on Taksim anymore. I try to remain discreet but I start to look more closely at the few people who seem to stay in the same place (there is not much to see or admire on Taksim, so people tend to walk through it, it seems). Most of them are street sellers. There are perhaps 4 or 5 men who do not seem to be engaging on any commercial activity. Despite my best efforts to spy with my little eye, I do not remain unnoticed. A relatively young man (perhaps in his early 30s?) walks up to me and starts talking in what English people would readily call ‘foreign’. After informing the man that I do not speak Turkish, he tells me that I look Turkish & says ‘Welcome to Istanbul’. The same has happened to me already 4 times in 3 days in Istanbul… Usually the people who did that had something to sell. Instead, this time, the young man warns me that protests will start at 5.30pm and I’d better be gone because he does not want me to watch fights or get into trouble. I immediately decide I should be there at 5.30pm when the action starts.

I pretend to leave, walk around Taksim, look at the streets off the square, check where they lead and whether they would provide a good way to escape (just in case I have to). I even make mental notes of a few places where it would be easy to hide from water cannons &c. You never know!

5.30pm. I come back to Taksim after having drunk Turkish coffee & eaten quite a few oriental pastries in a nearby street café. I am ready to see the events unfold. The place looks very different. A great number of policemen (perhaps up to 2 000) are now lining up in various parts of the square & mostly preventing access to the two areas where large crowds can gather: by the pink monument on the South side; on the large flat empty space next to the garden, which access is blocked (as it was earlier in the day). Some sort of armoured vehicle with cctv and radars on top sits there too. Taksim has become more crowded too. Tourists take pictures of themselves in front of the policemen or, amusingly of the pigeons in front of the policemen. Has the revolution become a tourist attraction, I wonder? Most importantly, the number of people who are standing and staying in the same place has increased. There are not many identifiable football supporters among them. I can spot very few jerseys from Galatasaray, Fenerbahçe or Beşiktaş, and  handful from other more unlikely clubs (Celtic Glasgow, Manchester United).

Post by : Dàvid RANC in the category : Identities, Posts, Public Sphere - No comment