Is It Possible To Support All Of WOSO?

It’s not possible to support of all WOSO. I love a bit of Twitter drama; I am like a kid in a sweet shop when I see it kick off. Just sit back with my popcorn and watch it all unfold. The latest piece of drama again has come from Manchester United and Chelsea with the signing of Pernille Harder. In an almost identical battle in the signing of Sam Kerr last season. An old photo of Kerr in a Manchester United shirt cropped up which hyped up the red side of Manchester. Imagine the heartbreak when she signed for the Blues.

The devastation quickly into denial of any want at all. It was here that the Red Devil’s hatched a plan, a campaign if you will for the transfer of Harder over to them. It was ambitious to say the least with a team as fresh as them, but you must give them full credit for ambition. This amped up further when it was rumoured Harder was leaving Wolfsburg after the Champions League this year. Hope died as two days before the finals the rumour mill went wild that she would be joining rivals Chelsea. The day after the transfer was confirmed again the cycle of despair and denial rained down from the terraces at Old Trafford. Hence the popcorn eating drama I alluded to earlier. Most of the comments were Chelsea gloating and Man United bellyaching. Like guys I love your enthusiasm and ambition but Harder was always going to be with her beloved Magdalena Erickson.

Photo: @ChelseaFCW

One comment however struck me and is the inspiration for this article. This particular gem was adamant you cannot support all of WOSO, you need to pick a team and stick to that team.  Ladies and gentlemen and all those in between I am here to tell you not only that you can but that you SHOULD.

Now let me clarify I am not discounting rivalry nor am I discouraging it. Anyone who knows me or has had a gander at my twitter page will know I bleed Claret and Blue (for my sins). I am East London through and through. Right down to the Krays accent and the Ray Winstone attitude. I have West Ham ink which includes the postcode of the old Rush Green ground woven in. I am so West Ham. I am trying to convince my betrothed that blowing bubbles would be great song to walk down the aisle to.

Being a West Ham fan since birth means I have certain hatred ingrained in me; I will always want certain teams to fail. I loathe Chelsea and Tottenham so much I refused to give them my money when we played them. Those tickets fell to my other half to stump up for. When Millwall lose my day is made. My loathing of these teams runs so deep, even in an international setting certain players still niggle. Like I will never love Fran Kirby as much as my partner as she plays for the Chelski. Therefore, I am not asking for Manchester City fans to don the red and head down the A56. Nor am I asking for Arsenal to convert to the Lilywhites and trip the light fantastic down to the Hive. No, I do not think you can jump from one team to the other but that is not what the question was. I am saying you can support of all WOSO and that you must.

Women’s football at its core is built on a very fragile framework. Should you remove just one element. The whole system has the potential to collapse around itself. I believe we need to band together and keep the pieces intact.

Look at any post on any social media platform about women’s football and you will get one of two responses. One is many middle-aged men and let us be honest it generally is the male of the species commenting a variation of the sentiment of nobody cares. Option number two you find middle aged men (see a pattern here) talking about what they would like to do to the players.

Boy where to begin with those. Firstly, let us attack the kitchen sink brigade claiming that no one cares. This is what we are fighting against people and this the game as whole. For every positive comment and love sent, it feels like there is three more sprouting up with the same sexist vitriol. The simple fact is we need women’s football to succeed, not just succeed thrive and grow. As I have pointed out; I despise Chelsea and Tottenham, am not a massive fan of Manchester United, and I can take or leave Liverpool. I want them to succeed though, I want them to be full time players and have the backing of their big brother club. I want the players to have successful careers and boost their profiles. I want them to make all the middle age men jealous of living the dream they had as wee nippers. I just do not want them to do well against West Ham. I want women’s football as whole as a concept to succeed and build, my petty dislike for the clubs does not come into play.

Recently a certain player returned to the opposite side of Manchester. Alex Greenwood after year at Lyon moved back to the North West but this time the Sky Blues. Obviously causing great upset to her former club Manchester Utd. understandable. The online abuse got so bad she turned off all notifications on all social media. Words of snake and traitor banded about but upsettingly, a whore, a slut and slapper for this move. Firstly, there are so few good progressive moves for a female player, if Lyon came a calling of course you are going to answer. We would hope that loyalty is what keeps a player at your club. But with so few clubs competing at that top level, you cannot begrudge a player moving on.

Photo by Richard Heathcote

The argument can be made that this is no different to what Carlos Tevez in the men’s game did all those years ago. However, I don’t remember Tevez’s personal inclinations and behaviours being brought into the grief.  Tevez moved directly between the two not via another club, this in theory should cause more anger than Greenwood not less.

This past World Cup broke records for viewing figures around the world and because this in part has led the FA to support equal pay for two national teams. Build it and they will come.

If we remain so tribal and divided, then this is when the cracks will appear. The rot will set in and all the growth we have will be undermined. If the tribes remain small, if the in fighting continues, then big investment companies will only continue to see it all as small potatoes.

Women’s football unfortunately is still viewed as a single entity; therefore, we need to show a united front and stop in house bickering. Save it for the pitch folks, that’s when rivalries can shine.

Now to the sexualisation which is a uniquely a WOSO problem. As a fan of West Ham I see it constantly on our socials due to the amount of blondes we have on our team. Men slathering over posts of players young enough to be their children, telling them what they would like to do them in between said player making them a sandwich. It makes scrolling through the Twitter feed both uncomfortable and nausea-inducing. It again is taking away the true athleticism and skill of the sport and reducing these talented sportswomen to how they fill out their kit.

On a lesser level when clubs use professional models to advertise their kits. We want equality for both sides. The male players are made to uncomfortably pose in front of the camera, Kane, Rashford and the like.  So why can’t their female counterparts? Professional female models wear women’s kits in the online shop pictures. The idea is that women players are not recognisable enough to flog the kit. Which has proven untrue with the fact that Christen Press and Tobin Heath have outsold any other Manchester United players shirt in the first three days of sales. Male or female. In all seriousness we should be able to pre-print our women’s team on the shirts just like the guys. All steps to equality are welcome.

All of this brings me back to my initial and crucial point. We as women’s football fans are fighting a fierce battle against the outside forces. Why are we taking each other apart internally when there are bigger foes to fight?

That being said, when the whistle blows its two tribes go to war.