Background image: Mendizorroza Stadium (Deportivo Alavés, Second Division). Vitoria-Gasteiz, Basque Country, Spain. Season 1952/53

A recent empirical study examines the reality of women as supporters in Polish football for the first time: in collaboration with Dominik Antonowicz (Torun, PL) and Honorata Jakubowska (Poznan, PL), Radoslaw Kossakowski from the University of Gdansk published a 17-page paper that sheds light on the role of female fans in Polish football fandom.

 “Most research fieldwork on ultras and hooligans tends to downplay the gender factor”, the article states. The authors try the exact opposite and deliberately focus on women. According to their findings, football stadiums in Poland appear to be one of the few remaining “bastion[s] of male domination”; social orders are firmly established and conscious gender divisions have been maintained permanently up to this day. In practice, the majority of male fans regard women as “subordinate viewers” rather than real supporters.

“Marginalised, patronised and instrumentalised” – the researchers’ conclusions are probably rather unsurprising to those who have experienced the exclusion of women around football.

However, the study provides scientific proof of this kind of experiences in Polish football realities; for that reason, 131 issues of the leading ultra magazine “To My Kibice” (roughly translates as “We are the fans”) were examined. Over 13 years, not a single contribution was written by women. Also, male authors mentioned women in the stadium in even less than 5% of their contributions. Within these articles, the female gender is mostly referred to by using sexualising or subordinating terms (“chick”, “princess”); even seemingly neutral vocabulary such as “women” or “girl” is predominantly used to consciously distinguish between “real”, i.e. male, and female supporters.

All in all, the study offers an interesting insight into Polish football fandom related to the question of gender equality; focussing on texts by leading ultra groups, it draws a rather disillusioning picture of the role of women on the country’s terraces.

SOURCE: “Marginalised, patronised and instrumentalised: Polish female fans in the ultras' narratives” by R. Kossakowski, D. Antonowicz and H. Jakubowska was published on 25 June 2018 in the academic journal “International Review for the Sociology of Sport”.

ABOUT "FAN.TASTIC RESEARCH": So far, female football fans have hardly been researched; there are only a few researchers who have dealt with them at all. It is therefore not easy to find scientific material on the subject. By introducing the category “Fan.Tastic RESEARCH”, we want to change this circumstance and aim at presenting new or interesting scientific papers about women on European terraces from time to time.