University research reveals male supporters in favour of women in football
A national survey has shown that most men interested in football in Britain would welcome more women into the sport as fans, coaches, board members and match officials.
The online survey received responses from over 2,000 fans, 83% of whom were men. Almost half the respondents were in the 46 and over age bracket, broadly reflecting the make-up of top level football crowds in England.
The findings include:
75% of men think media coverage of women’s sport has increased since London 2012. Only 65% of females thought the same
91% of males would welcome more female fans at football
90% would like more female football journalists
86% would like to see more women on club boards.
Male resistance is a little stronger with regards to officiating and coaching, but a large majority still favour change here:
75% of males would be happy with more female coaches
And 75% would welcome more female referees.
The research, conducted by Jamie Cleland (Loughborough University) and John Williams (University of Leicester) in collaboration with academics at other UK universities, also found:
One in three male fans (31%) now follow the fortunes of their club’s women’s team
29% had attended a women’s match.
Highlighting the increasing exposure given to women’s football, 34% of the participants used the official club website for news and information on women’s teams, whilst 35% engaged in social media (Facebook, Twitter and fan message boards) to follow their progress.
Dr Cleland, from the Department of Social Sciences at Loughborough University, said: “The coverage and exposure given to women’s sport since the 2012 Olympics is recognised among a large sample of people from across Britain, who acknowledge the growth it is making in such a short space of time.
“In the way that Italia 1990 was viewed as a pivotal time in the changing landscape of men’s football, large numbers of men recognise the opportunity for women’s football that has been created after the successful 2015 Women’s World Cup. Fans argue that it is now time for football’s administrators, sponsors and media providers to make sure that this opportunity is not lost.”
Mr Williams, from the Department of Sociology at the University of Leicester, said: “We do need to be slightly cautious in our conclusions because this is a self-selecting sample. Not all men interested in sport may be as progressive in their views as these men seem to be. But there is some strong evidence here that male fan perceptions about the role of women in sport are changing. Perhaps sports as businesses need to catch up with public opinion?
“It is also interesting to see that the Women’s World Cup in 2015 captured the imagination of so many male fans and that most of them were pleasantly surprised by what they saw. The women’s game might be emerging for some people as an alternative to the excesses of men’s football. It has been said that since London 2012 we are in a very positive phase for changing attitudes about women in sport. Our survey provides further evidence that this has happened.”