Women’s Football Subculture of Misogyny: The Escalation to Online Gender-Based Violence



Fenton A, Ahmed W, Hardey M, Boardman R & Kavanagh E (2023) Women’s Football Subculture of Misogyny: The Escalation to Online Gender-Based Violence. European Sport Management Quarterly.

Abstract Research question: Given the worldwide growth of women’s football and its presence on social media, it is essential to explore and understand fan attitudes and culture. Research methods: This article provides the first empirical social media netnography focusing on English women’s football teams (Manchester United and Burnley) and international fan views towards women professional players on TikTok. We extend this discussion by utilising a netnography in which researchers immersed themselves for seven months in women’s football groups on TikTok to gather and analyse new qualitative data in this context. Results and Findings: We identify the escalation of gender-based violence on social media against women players. Four key themes emerged from the netnography: 1. Sexism: the place of women in football; 2. Misogyny and hatred of women; 3. Sexualisation of women; 4. Demand for a male-only space. Sexist comments were apparent in all of the TikTok posts containing female football players, with some also containing more aggressive misogynistic comments. Other dominant comments sought to reduce women to objects of sexual desire and belittle their professional skills, whereas others were appalled at the presence of female players on the clubs’ official accounts, demanding them to be a male-only space. Implications: The study contributes to the understanding of online fan cultures on complex, video-based platforms such as TikTok. Through literature review and netnography, we identified a problem for football clubs on social media of longstanding, problematic issues of toxic fan comments.

Netnography; gender-based violence; TikTok; women’s football; social media

Output Status: Forthcoming/Available Online

European Sport Management Quarterly

StatusIn Press
Publication date online30/11/2023
Date accepted by journal09/10/2023