The Mailbox features one punter who won’t be watching the women’s World Cup because of boobs. Also: lots of love for Dele, while we are warned over criticising Jordan Henderson…
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Why I don’t watch women’s football
I only watch men’s football and I’m afraid I’m not going to watch even a minute the upcoming women’s World Cup. Let me explain why.
But first, some context. I’m not a misogynist. I’m married to a woman and we have a baby daughter – I love them both very much. If my daughter grows up to enjoy playing football then I will teach her what I know, go to watch her matches and support her as best I can. I have had female bosses before who I respected and liked. I have platonic female friends. I have voted for female politicians and I have read and enjoyed books by female authors.
But when I watch football, either on TV or live, I do so to relax and escape from the world for a bit. Football brings out atavistic instincts in me. I’m like a little kid living in a cave 20,000 years ago watching the men go out to hunt. There is no logic to it, I admit. I just want to watch men kick a ball around aggressively for 90 minutes every week or so, not women, even though for the rest of my time I’m a responsible man with a family, a job and modern values concerning women.
A second reason for not watching women’s football is that I’m a normal, heterosexual man and I just get distracted by the t**s and a** when I don’t want to be. I just want to relax and watch the game. In my normal day-to-day life I make a conscious effort to be professional at work and to show respect to women in public spaces, to be a respectful husband etc etc. I am aware that I am objectifying women by my above comment, but these are my own private thoughts which I almost always keep to myself. I abhor the public objectification of women (e.g in the media). My point is that I want to forget absolutely everything, even my own sexual desires, for a couple of hours every week. It’s good for my mental health.
The third reason is that part of the reason I follow football is to have something in common to talk to about with people. If all my mates watched and followed women’s football then I would do that too (although I don’t think that will ever happen, for the reasons I’ve given above). That’s not to say that I follow the crowd in everything I do in life, far from it. But with my limited free time to watch sports I choose to watch what my mates watch so we can talk about it together.
None of this is meant as a criticism of women’s football per se, or of anyone who does watch women’s football. I don’t belittle it and if you enjoy it then good for you. I also hope women’s football continues to grow.
And my arguments about football being a release from normal life cannot and should not be used to justify outright bigotry or other toxic, harmful behavior in football like racist, sexist or tragedy chanting. I’m ultimately not harming anyone by deciding not to watch women’s football, so my conscience is clear.
These are my personal reasons for not watching it, and also for not watching women’s sports in general. I suspect I’m not alone in my reasoning though. So, to Johnny Nic and all the lefties up there on your high horses who decry male football fans who don’t watch women’s football because they are, in your narrow view, sexist; you watch women’s football by all means, but please don’t think doing so makes you a morally and intellectually superior person.
Learn from Dele
Just watched the emotional Dele interview with Gary Neville and I’m feeling guilty.
I’ve always loved Dele’s football, he’s an outstanding talent and one of England’s best ever players in terms of ability. But watching him over the last few years without understanding what might be going on behind the scenes I fell into the trap of thinking that he’d just lost his motivation. I’ve personally said, “he’s wasting his talent” and this documentary reminded me that I’m stupid and didn’t think about what challenges he may have been facing.
It’s a great thing that he’s done in opening up and explaining. We really all should do the same more often. Don’t bottle your problems up, get help, talk to someone. As Dele says, there are more people than you think with the same issues and experiences.
I wish him all the best in returning to form and managing his trauma and addictions. And I wish myself the best in remembering that the picture we see of people and the things we read or hear are NEVER the full story.
Adam (Trying hard to be better)
…I want to ask everyone who reads this to watch the Dele interview. Not to rubberneck at his pain, not to comment on his bravery and honesty, but to see a person who has grown in ways that I feared were not possible. To see a person demonstrating the power of therapy, and showing that the pain of trauma does not have to define and control you. To see a person who, although I have no actual connection with, makes me feel so bloody proud of him – not for the interview, but for the work he has done to get to this point.
I find it incredibly worrying that Neville says he didn’t know about Dele’s childhood. It was not unknown, it was an open fact. Not all elements, but certainly those around his families (both blood and adopted), and the seeming lack of awareness or thought around this is deeply troubling. A child going through the known elements is going to experience a lot of trauma and distress. Being a professional footballer at 16 despite this doesn’t immunise the child from any potential consequences. It’s a disgusting dereliction of duty from those around him, and fills me with fury and sadness for all of the other children who disappear into oblivion because nobody takes the time to save them. Our care systems are full of children who will end up in prison. They are not bad people. They are kids whose lives were stolen, whose hopes were smashed, and whose pain then tears away other possible futures.
For a long time I held the fear that Dele’s story would become even more tragic, and to see him looking so well and speaking with such understanding has brought me more joy than I ever would have imagined. The beautiful boy is blossoming despite the press intrusion and cruelty, and he is making strides towards the contentment he deserves. We cannot control how others act, but we can control how we react. And Dele is changing and reshaping his reactions, his perceptions, and his reality. He is magnificent. And if you are reading this and telling yourself that healing is only for the rich, that your trauma isn’t that bad, or that you don’t deserve help, you are wrong. You matter.
A line or two on Eric Dier, as it feels very appropriate to include him in an email about Dele. I love Eric Dier for the person he is, moreso than his sporting impact – and to be clear, I don’t say that to imply he is not a good footballer. He speaks his truth, is open-minded, and has a decency to him that makes it so hard to not warm to him. The young Dele and Dier represent a period of time that makes me feel so happy, and the thought of both leaving without true appreciation does the absolute opposite. I hope that both have futures that are peaceful and content. And that they spend their retirement days tending to their shared vegetable garden.
…I, like many fans, watched the Dele Alli interview, and it shouldn’t have taken a no holds barred, tell all interview to remind me that footballers are just human beings and wealth does not inoculate you against the pains of life.
Football allows us something which is hard to do in the modern world, and that is be tribal. Where we overlook the sins of our collective as we stand against others. But we’re meant to be a civilisation now, not tribes who war.
I saw someone who I knew from my working life, a fellow Arsenal fan, who responded to Dele Alli’s interview with ‘he’s just a c***’ and my heart just sank. No ability to see the human being, just his partisan view of him. Like the piece David wrote, we should all squirm a little. Summer is a good time for us to take stock, and maybe let’s bring some better energy to the league next season. I’ve always felt awkward when you hear an abusive chant at a game, that this is amplified 100 times online and I don’t think even the money could convince me to want to be a footballer.
Listening to his story of abuse, if anything I hold him in much higher stead for what he actually achieved in his career, rather than viewing it as wasted.
John Matrix AFC
…I thought that my lasting memory of Dele Alli was to be scorer of close to the best goal in modern times and owner of a talent partially unfulfilled.
That’s just been blown out of the water by what I have just watched for the last hour – what an impressive, measured, likeable person you are.
Although I didn’t personally have the best of upbringings, I can’t claim to have gone through anywhere near as dark a path as the one you were forced to walk.
My default mechanism was to bottle things up and not let others in and as a result its taken a longer time to erode certain negative aspects.
Your words serve as an inspiration to everyone that being able to talk about issues is actually a sign of strength and helps shine a light on the path to the better place.
I will sing your name Dele, if ever I am fortunate enough to see you face off against my lot again.
You’ve done a really important thing from a societal perspective – we talk about the butterfly effect of things, but some wings are more powerful than others.
I salute you Dele … I am a now a fan for life.
Leave Dele and Henderson alone
F365 has reached Guardian levels of preaching. Apparently we are all to shame jordan Henderson for taking Saudi money at the same time as shaming ourselves for not being nicer to Dele Alli who can afford his own damn psychiatrists.
I don’t know exactly why Henderson would chose the money but footballer takes big money contract, in other news: water is wet.
While bringing attention to the struggles of the younger generations, we are being told this by one of the few among us with the wealth to do whatever he wants about it (if money can’t solve these problems then why does Henderson want so much of it?) Sorry if it grinds my gears a bit when rich people complain about their problems and we’re all told to be sympathetic while the poorest and most vulnerable of us suffer in silence because Gary Neville doesn’t want to interview us.
Liverpool fans are sensitive souls aren’t they, im predicting Marc and Ade are going to look slightly silly when Hendo packs the factor 50 and goes doing some top class pointing and stuff in Saudi
“Hubris, or less frequently hybris, describes a personality quality of extreme or excessive pride or dangerous overconfidence, often in combination with arrogance.”
I know this effects (or infects) all football supporters, but Thursday’s Mailbox really made me think that Liverpool fans are quite often guilty of the above more so than other fandoms. Perhaps it’s the passion.
How the world sees us
I must admit it’s funny to watch so many mainly English fans complaining about Saudi money and Saudi clubs picking off players with money and salaries no one else can match.
Are they so unaware of how the rest of the world views English football? We love watching it but English teams often use dodgy money to strip other leagues of the vest players with money and salaries no one else can match.
Pot kettle etc…
Steve Limerick Ireland
Football in Europe now, see LIV golf and PGA the last 2 years.
They will start with players past it but are going to get some quality players soon for the $$$.
Forgot Super League for the moment, this is going to be a massive challenge both with losing players and clubs trying to compete with insane salaries.
Knee-d to know
Can the F365 readers help me understand where I am going wrong here?!
A while back we had an enormous campaign where footballers made a big show of going down on one knee to show how outraged they were by historical and present racial discrimination
This morning I was listening to talk sport and Gabby Agbonlahor, a man who has supported BLM, was saying, ‘Why wouldn’t Henderson go to Saudi Arabia for the money?’
So Saudi Arabia, in case we forget, is named by the UN as a country and regime which has modern slaves right now. And the clubs themselves are owned by that same slave supporting regime, who are using the same sports starts to gloss over their crimes
So my questions for readers are:
Where is the outrage for this? Why isn’t someone asking about the hypocrisy involved here?
Was BLM kneed protests just virtue signalling as critics suggested at the time or have I missed the bigger picture?
Please help me understand.
Learning from the Germans
Not sure what Levenshulme Blue wants to learn from German fans. The season here kicks off at 8:30pm on a Friday. Bayern are away in Bremen. At 750km that’s probably the longest away trip in the league.
Steve – Germany
Mbappe on loan
“This may be a crazy and unrealistic idea …” should have stopped there Adidasmufc. Genuinely one of the most bizarre mails I’ve read.
Several flaws in the idea to loan Mbappe from PSG.
First, if Mbappe is worth paying £40m for a season, then why would PSG accept? They’d be better having Mbappe for a year than receiving the £40m.
Secondly, they won’t be getting Mbappe back after the year. They’d effectively be selling him for £40m. So they’d be far better selling him now for £80-100m, which someone would definitely pay (if they won’t pay the higher price).
Third, why don’t clubs swap players for a season? The example being Rashford to PSG for Mbappe for one season? I don’t know, I mean why don’t Liverpool swap Salah for Wilf Zaha for a year? Why don’t Man City swap De Bruyne for Scott McTominay for a year? I mean, if you can’t answer that question, do you even watch football?
Mike, LFC, London