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‘They are doing it because they love it’: U.S. and English fan perceptions of women footballers as ‘role models’

Allison, Rachel; Culvin, Alex; Pope, Stacey

‘They are doing it because they love it’: U.S. and English fan perceptions of women footballers as ‘role models’ Thumbnail


Authors

Rachel Allison

Alex Culvin



Abstract

We draw from 102 interviews with American and English adults who attended the 2019 Women’s World Cup to examine how fans perceive women footballers as ‘role models’, with attention to the operations of gender ideology. Despite the recent professionalization and commercialization of women’s football, there is a dearth of research on fan perspectives of players as role models. Our findings show that most fans perceive role modelling as women’s accessibility and authenticity in interaction. Fans naturalize women’s often uncompensated labor as role models through a supposed love for their sport and desire to see its future growth, endorsing a gender essentialist view of women as notably caring and giving in comparison to men. However, a minority of fans embrace a more critical view by identifying role modelling as an expectation placed disproportionately on women within an already unequal resource environment. We conclude that role modelling is a gendered expectation for elite women footballers and that fans can be a source of pressure towards its enactment.

Citation

Allison, R., Culvin, A., & Pope, S. (2024). ‘They are doing it because they love it’: U.S. and English fan perceptions of women footballers as ‘role models’. Sport in Society, https://doi.org/10.1080/17430437.2024.2304230

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Jan 5, 2024
Online Publication Date Jan 13, 2024
Publication Date Jan 13, 2024
Deposit Date Jan 18, 2024
Publicly Available Date Jan 18, 2024
Journal Sport in Society
Print ISSN 1743-0437
Electronic ISSN 1743-0445
Publisher Taylor and Francis Group
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
DOI https://doi.org/10.1080/17430437.2024.2304230
Public URL https://durham-repository.worktribe.com/output/2150253
This output contributes to the following UN Sustainable Development Goals:

SDG 5 - Gender Equality

Achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls

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