The third FREE Policy Brief is now online 


To many in Europe, football epitomises masculinity. The sport is often depicted as the very activity around which men gather and socialise, both as players and as spectators; and from which women are excluded by men – or from which women self-exclude. Yet, football can make a very convincing claim to being the №1 participant team sport for women in Europe today. Women may even be described somehow emphatically as ‘the future of football’ in official publications (the margins for growth in the men’s sport is unquestionably more limited). However, the situation is less rosy when it comes to football as a Spectator sport for women, who typically experience sexism and symbolic violence in the stadium.

To what extent is football a sport for women today – both as players and as supporters? What can be done to help ensure a fairer balance between men and women? Given the centrality of football in the definition of masculinities in Europe, this is not a trivial question. Equality between men and women has been a founding principle of the Union ever since the Rome treaty and will no doubt remain a target for years, if not decades to come. Can football help to progress the goals set out by the 2010-5 Strategy for equality between women and men? How? In order to answer these questions, the project sought to produce evidence through a wide range of qualitative and quantitative research methods.

 Please click here to download our third Policy brief, on Feminisation.


Two other policy briefs from the FREE project deal in more detail with two specific sub-topics: findings from the research stream on football stakeholders and governance; as well as from the historical, sociological and anthropological research streams.

 Please click here to download our first Policy brief, on the Public Sphere.

 Please click here to download our second Policy brief, on Governance.