Survey reveals increase in female football fans being harassed at games

Survey reveals increase in female football fans being harassed at games

Women are less tolerant of sexist behaviour at football matches than they were seven years ago, according to a new survey of more than 2,000 fans.

The Football Supporters’ Association research has measured current views against those of fans in 2014, finding there has been an 20 percentage-point increase (to 49%) in the number of matchgoing fans who said witnessing sexist behaviour made them angry. Meanwhile, just 12% said they would laugh off sexism, as opposed to 24% of fans surveyed in 2014.

Although fans’ willingness to put up with sexist behaviour has dropped, 20% of women reported having experienced unwanted physical attention when attending men’s games, up from 8% in 2014. At women’s football matches three-quarters of supporters said they had not heard sexist comments or chants or experienced unwanted physical attention.

FSA board member and Port Vale fan, Ally Simcock, said: “It is heartening to see the change in attitudes over recent years, with fans less likely to be accepting of sexist behaviour, or willing to just brush it off or excuse it as banter.

“I’ve been going to men’s football for a long time now and have heard my share of sexist comments, but a lot has changed recently. Things like the #MeToo movement have helped change people’s perceptions about what they’re willing to put up with, and what is or isn’t acceptable.

“The FSA is absolutely clear on this – there is no place whatsoever at football for sexist or misogynistic behaviour. We’d encourage all supporters to challenge it, and if necessary, report it to their club or the authorities.”

In the 2014 study, close to one in three fans said they were not bothered when witnessing a sexist incident at a match, now that number is down to one in seven.

Of those that took part in the survey, 97.2% identified themselves as women and 0.6% identified as non-binary. The remainder either self-identified as another gender, or preferred not to say. Of those who follow the men’s game, 61% are season-ticket holders and 81% attend at least five games a season. Of those who said they support a women’s team, 16% were season ticket holders and 74% had attended matches pre-Covid.

The FSA survey also asked women about other barriers to attending men’s matches, with 51% citing high ticket prices and 45% pinpointing cost and distance to games.