For some football fans, the arrival of Harry Kewell to the A-League has been tarnished by an offensive article from a thoughtless ‘journalist’.
In a piece from Alex White (published in both the Sunday Herald Sun and Fox Sports website) detailing the presentation of the #22 shirt to Kewell, female fans were portrayed as perving fangirls there only to catch a glimpse of a shirtless Harry Kewell and this has been meet with anger by fans sick of being stereotyped.
The line, “… for the female fans the highlight was seeing Kewell semi-naked when he swapped his shirt on the field,” does a disservice to dedicated football fans who were there to see the team they love. It is disrespectful to suggest that the highlight was seeing him sans shirt, rather than seeing him proudly presented with his Victory jersey. Personally, my highlight was seeing Kewell link up superbly with Archie Thompson during the training game, and not seeing him take his clothes off.
Further adding insult to injury was the choice to include a quote from a female at the event that only pointed out Kewell’s looks; “It was great, he is pretty sexy…He is a very remarkable man and his face is gorgeous.”
The choice of the journalist to use that quote, rather than one about his immense talent or positive attitude is very telling. It is easy to portray females this way and only serves to propagate a stereotype that most of the media seems perfectly comfortable with (never mind that many would work alongside talented and amazing female sport journalists).
Sadly, it is not just this article that presented the idea that females were there only to look at Harry Kewell. The Age also ran with this angle, including a quote from Melbourne Victory captain Adrian Leijer stating that Harry’s “a genuine superstar – and the girls love him.” (This girl won’t be declaring love for Kewell until he tears through Adelaide United.)
This is also not the first time that female football fans have been written off as fangirls, and it won’t be the last. This is unfortunate given that this only serves to alienate some of the most knowledgeable, dedicated and amazing fans.
Passionate supporters, men and woman alike, consider that it is the shirt that is important and not who is in it. It is the team, not the individual players and it how they play and not how they look that matters. The time and money (not to mention the stress) involved in sport is not gratified by a chiselled torso or whatever it is that women are supposed to like.
For female sports fans, the important thing is that they don’t let this constant misrepresentation and a patronising media stop them from passionately and wholeheartedly supporting their teams and the code. After all, WE are football too.