World Cup Fever, a female perspective
Did you know?
The 19 FIFA World Cup tournaments to date have been won by 8 teams
Who won what?
- Brazil - 1958, 1962, 1970, 1994, 2002
- Italy - 1934, 1938, 1982, 2006
- West Germany - 1954, 1974, 1990
- Uruguay - 1930, 1950
- Argentina - 1978, 1986
- England - 1966
- France - 1998
- Spain - 2010
Female Soccer Fan Shocker!
There, I've said it. I'm out and proud. I'm a female soccer fan.
This may not mean much to the rest of the world, but here in Jolly Old England, it's generally accepted that girls don't like the game, and if they do then it's because they fancy the players.
Well I do like the game, and barring a couple of exceptions, it's not because I fancy the players. It may shock many readers that I don't swoon over David Beckham, the man universally agreed to be the reason females like soccer. He seems a perfectly charming gent, but no weakness in the knees have I.
But this article isn't about gender politics in sport, so the fact that I'm female and enjoy the game is neither here nor there.
In the eyes of my nation, my sin is far greater than being female.
English Soccer Fandom
In England, there is one image etched in to the hearts and minds of every soccer fan, and that is the moment Bobby Moore was raised up by his fellow players, holding the Jules Rimet trophy aloft, an iconic reminder that England were the world champions.
Every four years this image appears on everything the merchandisers can think of - t-shirts, mousemats, teatowels, underwear. Every four years, England fans wait with baited breath, hoping that maybe this year that triumph will be relived.
And every four years, those same England fans are sorely disappointed, with declarations heard on every street that "I never thought they had a chance anyway."
Robbed of a chance of victory by the Hand of God
It's a heartbreaking sight, the players returning home to none of the warmth with which they were seen off.
English flags torn down from windows, car flags tossed aside in ditches along the roadside.
Then within weeks, league matches resume, and we all go back to our lives, debates about whether it'll be Arsenal or Liverpool who'll be the major threat to Manchester United this season.
For the briefest of moments the nation are as one behind our boys, cheers at the wins, tears at the losses, and bitter disappointment when England are out of the competition.
How have England fared?
FIFA World cup
1954, 1962, 1970, 1986, 2002,
UEFA European Championship
Gimme The Prize!
Have your say
Do you follow the FIFA World Cup?
The sin of sins for a soccer fan in England
I'm not an England fan. Horrible I know, but I don't support my national team.
I am, always have been, and ever will be a Scotland fan. No expectations mean no disappointments, which is a lesson a lot of England fans would do well to take note of.
It's hard enough being a female soccer fan whe the World Cup rolls around, but with me not supporting the national team, I may as well be carrying the plague.
I enjoy the banter, don't get me wrong, and as I'm writing this I'm wearing a World Cup 2014 sleeveless t-shirt, it's just not an England branded one. I will buy England shirts for my children, I will let them fly mini flags, I'll even watch the matches on TV (much to the annoyance of the man of the house, who doesn't enjoy soccer), I just won't actively support England.
The love of the game
I probably would be easier just to say I don't like soccer, and let that be an end to it, but I don't see why I should have to play dumb for the duration of the tournament.
I enjoy the game for all its flaws and unpredictability, I like the idea that maybe one day England will confound expectations and actually win. I like the feeling of involvement, of camaraderie. Even though I don't support England, I like to see them do well.
I think that's where I differ as a female English Scotland fan. I bear less animosity towards England, and it's not just because I live here. While I will have a laugh with the Scotland supporters' t-shirts declaring their support for 'Anyone But England', I won't wear them. I just threaten to. Repeatedly.
This is what it's all about
Let's hear it for the girls!
England fans have been riding the high of the '66 World Cup for a jaw-dropping 48 years at the time of writing, and other being top of the Unofficial Football World Cup rankings, Scotland have made little impact on the World Cup stage.
But of course, that's just the men's game.
It's easy to overlook the FIFA Women's World Cup, because it's less publicised than the men's tournament, but women's football is slowly becoming more popular, and in time we may see more of a public response.
After all, in the early days of the Olympic Games the competitors were predominantly male, and now female athletes are almost as ubiquitous as male athletes, so there's hope yet.
Until then, I'll just be a female Scotland fan in a nation of male England fans, ever the outsider, but always in love with the game.
© 2014 Rebecca Hillary