Football Goes East: Business, Culture, and the People's Game in China, Japan, and South Korea

By Wolfram Manzenreiter; John Horne | Go to book overview

13

Her place in the 'House of Football'

Globalisation, cultural sexism and women's football in East Asian societies

Wolfram Manzenreiter


Introduction

'On the Day the World Plays Football', FIFA celebrated its centennial anniversary in 2004. While the event was scheduled to highlight the younger generation's part in the impressive achievements of the 'people's game', the slogan itself emphasised the worldwide appeal of a 'people's game'. With a membership of 204 national associations at the end of 2003, this border-crossing attribution to the sport of football seems to have become more accurate than the conventional phrase of the people's game that wantonly conceals the neglect of half the people of the world. Despite girls' and women's undeniable advances in football since the 1980s, football continues to be primarily a man's world. In most parts of the globe, gender discrimination is the most evident rupture in the ideology of the 'people's game'. The gendered nature of football was even largely obscured in Sugden and Tomlinson's critical and otherwise profound analysis of governance in world football (1998). Yet as feminist interventions have shown, the consumption and experience of football provides one of the last reserves of patriarchal society in late modernity, notwithstanding broader economic, political, legal and social developments in society. Gender inequality in football is particularly noticeable in those societies where football emerged as the preferred leisure activity of the male working and middle classes.

The marginalisation of women is not unique to football of course, but a relic of historically acquired inequalities of the sexes in sport in general. Critical inquiries into the world of sport have disclosed that sport has always been a 'sexual battlefield' in which familiar stereotypes of men and women are communicated and reinforced (Boyle and Haynes 2000:127). Sport emerged as a conservative domain for the representation of gender since male domination in sport was established in the 19th century. Biological scientism and the social organisation of modernity, in particular the segregation of gender roles, provided the ideological nutrient for the legitimation of gender discrimination in sport. While the spread of liberal democratic ideology in the latter half of the 20th century triggered tremendous changes in patterns of leisure and consumption, and in relations between the sexes, cultural and economic constraints have continued to act upon women's representation and participation in sport. It is equally true that whilst

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