‘Football’s patriarchal PR’25 February 2015

Guestblog:GermanjournalistandFarememberNicoleSelmerlooksatan initiative inBrazilwhichhired30mothersas stewardsasamovetocounterviolenceinalocalderbymatch,andexploresstereotypicalperceptions ofwomeninfootball.

Violence at football matches? Well, let’s do something with women, why don’t we? – Time and time again this idea raises its attractive head. Take the belief that female attendance in front of the big screens has turned the major football tournaments into peaceful events over the last 10 years. Or how fan violence in Turkey has led to stadium closures in which men were banned from attending matches but women and children allowed in.

The latest mission for female football peacekeepers was in Recife, Brazil where earlier this month top tier Sport Club do Recife hired 30 mothers as stewards for the traditionally fierce derby against local rival Nautico.

Not just any mothers, if you please, but the mothers of hooligans, as the enthusiastic press coverage pointed out. The club itself omits that particular point, only referring to them as Sport Club supporters’ mums. But this is not the only detail that has got lost in the media response to the initiative. Another one is the fact that the brains behind the idea is a PR company.

If out of all species women really were the most peaceful one – and my aggressive impulses while thinking about the Recife project and its media echo strongly speak against it – shouldn’t we be developing more radical initiatives?

Here’s an idea: Peace talks in Minsk between a childless woman and a handful of men? Why not send 50 Eastern Ukrainian mums onto the battlefields around Donetsk to end the fighting?

And why stop at the terraces in football? Does anyone really believe it is all peace and harmony in the Fifa ExCo? Don’t think so. Admittedly the (overwhelmingly) male members might be too old for us to fall back on their mothers. So, it might be best to just exchange all of them for a female-only committee, for the good of the game, as they say. But, of course, that won’t happen, which is a nice little hint as to how serious the idea of female placidity really is.

The security mums in Recife are a PR stunt of a club who should have spared us the inherent patriarchal stereotypes in such a move.

maes