Sexism in football: FC Zenit

// 25 February 2009

Female fans of Russia’s FC Zenit are no longer able to freely buy season tickets to watch the team’s games from the fan sector of its home stadium, reports Natalia Antonova at GlobalComment.

I couldn’t find any English language news coverage of this, but Antonova explains:

I was therefore particularly dismayed to read that the council of fans of FC Zenit St. Petersburg – the richest club in the Russian Federation and the original stomping ground of star footballer Andrei Arshavin – has decided that season tickets for the coveted fan sector in their home stadium of Petrovsky will not be sold to women (or, as one choice news source put it, “broads”).

Gorod 812, a journal based in St. Petersburg quoted Ruslan Dryuma, an FC Zenit representative, as confirming that “young women were excluded, but not all of them… We have made the decision that we are not discussing this subject with the press.”

It seems that the fans’ council believes women are not ‘proper fans’. It’s pretty unclear what the actual policy is – a blanket ban, or if they are selling the season tickets to some women not others, how they are deciding which women are ‘allowed’ to buy tickets.

Ananova says:

I was unable to get anyone to speak to me on the phone, and e-mail messages have gone unreturned so far. Perhaps club officials are counting on this issue to fade away.

In the meantime, I was able to get in touch with a couple of female Zenit fans who wished to remain anonymous. One woman spoke to me about obtaining tickets to the fan sector through friends, and her fear of these friends getting into trouble because of her. Both women said that it was their desire that only the most devoted fans have access to the sector.

Both also related instances in which men in the fan sector behaved as though they were not fans at all – and wondered why it is that people like that get a free pass, while women are very closely scrutinized, and found wanting.

Comments From You

Kez // Posted 25 February 2009 at 11:27 am

Sounds outrageous, but also sounds like there may be more to this story than meets the eye – they “confirmed that young women were excluded, but not all of them… We have made the decision that we are not discussing this subject with the press.”

Given how ridiculous it sounds, maybe they should be discussing it with the press to explain their position. If *some* women are being excluded, on what basis has that decision been made? Maybe there are good reasons why certain women are not being sold tickets for the “coveted fan sector”, but if so, it seems advisable that the club let these reasons be known.

Anna // Posted 25 February 2009 at 1:08 pm

Makes me glad Championship football has come a long way – perfect by no means but the club I support are rather vocal about getting more women along to the match, pointing out that women and children are actually the future of football support.

Rumbold // Posted 25 February 2009 at 2:08 pm

Racism is also rife in the Russian game:

catinca // Posted 1 March 2009 at 2:58 pm

well maybe some women should think about the fact that the stadium is not the place to come dressed up as if going to a club or something like that. I am sure that the women that are allowed to buy tickets have proved that they are real fans. I don’t know if this is the best decision and I’m not saying it’s not a bit sexist, but I’m sure that they had circumstanses to make this decision. I am also a woman and I sometimes think that at least 70% of the women that come to our stadium should rather stay home. At least the side of the stadium that is deddicated to ultras should stay clear of the girly girls just coming there to be pretty :). And I am sure that the ones that are trully worth it will be allowed in any sector of the stadium.

Jess McCabe // Posted 2 March 2009 at 5:52 pm

catinca – those are pretty sexist ideas, if you really think about it. Why does what a woman wears (“girly girls”) determine whether she’s a ‘proper fan’? Can’t a woman wear a skirt and be a football fan? It seems a pretty clear case of sexism to put extra barriers in front of women wanting season tickets than men.

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