When France performed Norway on June 12, I used to be in somewhat brasserie within the 18th arrondissement, watching with a gaggle of pals, most from the USA with one Canadian added to the combination. 4 of us have been carrying Les Bleues jerseys, the distinctive blue hexagon print on white standing out in opposition to the darkish picket décor. We needed to crane our heads to look at the TV positioned on a publish excessive and to our left, however so far as we may inform, ours have been the one heads swiveling as France defeated Norway 2–1, that one in opposition to coming from an virtually unthinkable Wendie Renard personal objective. We howled in disbelief at that second — significantly me, sitting there in my customized Renard jersey — and gasped and cheered our approach by way of the remainder of the sport.
Finally, a gaggle of younger French folks in entrance of us howled again in irritation, our noise a distraction from their dialog, which didn’t embody watching France play. The Canadian amongst us — Shireen Ahmed, for the document, who can stroll into any scenario and are available out of it with a brand new pal — rapidly satisfied one of many younger men to elucidate why nobody within the restaurant appeared as into seeing France compete as we have been. Amidst a few shrugs they stated they did care; “It’s cool that everyone cares,” our younger Frenchman instructed us in English, and so they joined in a number of the scattered clapping when the whistle blew and France took all three factors. However like the remainder of the diners, they clearly thought of the sport enjoying on the TVs behind them background noise.
There does appear to be a noticeable lack of engagement with the Girls’s World Cup right here in Paris. I spoke to Veronica Noseda, one of many co-founders of Les Dégommeuses, a French group that promotes women’s soccer and fights discrimination, significantly sexism and homophobia. They’ve been energetic since 2012, when one in every of their first tasks was collaborating on a week-long occasion with Thokozani FC, a soccer membership for South African black lesbians, named after Thokozani Qwabe, murdered in 2007 for being a lesbian (CW: rape, homophobia, hate crime). Noseda thinks the blasé perspective, at the least in Paris, stems from a mixture of outdated attitudes towards women’s soccer and the locals merely not figuring out that the World Cup is occurring beneath their noses.
At the moment, Les Dégommeuses is making an attempt to boost consciousness not simply in regards to the World Cup, however in regards to the place of women — all sorts of women — in French soccer with a collection of posters they’ve put up round Paris. In accordance with Noseda, these posters are a response to “a very homogeneous image of female soccer players in France.”
“[Football Federation France], they talk about the politics of feminization,” she says, “Which means they want more women on the pitch and in the federation, which is great. But behind [their words] there was also a politic of feminization of the image of the players. They wanted the players to be beautiful, they wanted [them] to be very feminine, to reassure [people] about the fact that they are heterosexual, they are straight, they are one kind of woman. So responding to that, we wanted to have posters representing the multiplicity of women playing football, which means multiplicity in terms of looks.”
The posters definitely do present a multiplicity of women, from their gender presentation to their physique sorts to their race. A row is held on the fences outdoors the FIFA Fan Zone at Les Halles, though Noseda says there is no such thing as a official partnership between Les Dégommeuses and FIFA. The group merely went round Paris and caught up posters of their very own accord.
In actual fact, Noseda thinks FIFA may have completed a lot, rather more to advertise the match in France. The Les Halles fan zone is good, and in her opinion the French media are literally enjoying their half in overlaying the World Cup, however the advertising and marketing of the match is moderately lackluster. The metro commercials are one in every of her high criticisms — certain, you’ll find the odd poster of Les Bleues posing collectively, and there are a couple of adverts on the backs of buses, but it surely’s hardly ubiquitous. “There is no sign in the public space that the World Cup is going on,” she says. In smaller cities like Reims and Valenciennes, the World Cup is extra important and takes up more room. “But in Paris, honestly, I’m a little bit disappointed.”
“I think there is a growing interest,” she says. “But for me a World Cup means to be in the streets and to be in the cafes and to see the match with someone else.” Noseda compares the diploma of consideration Paris is giving to the present match to the 2016 Euros, when there have been televisions enjoying the sport on each nook. “Everything stops, about the men it’s true, but not about the women.”
“It’s really a masculine sport,” she says of the less-than-progressive attitudes in direction of the women’s sport. “And if you play football, you are criticized. You are a little bit disqualified. Your soccer is not good on principle.”
This perspective ripples out to the way in which the French women’s league operates. D1 Female may need one in every of — if not the very best — women’s golf equipment on the earth in Olympique Lyonnais, however there’s a staggering disparity between OL and the golf equipment on the backside of the league. Lyon star Ada Hegerberg is reported to make €400,000 a 12 months, whereas on the backside of the desk, Noseda estimates at the least a couple of gamers may take home solely €800/month or €9,600/12 months, assuming they receives a commission for 12 months, which is unusual. Not like in NWSL, there aren’t any necessities relating to a minimal or most wage, and so Noseda calls it a “scattered situation,” with superstars making dozens of occasions what different gamers are paid. In fact, this isn’t an argument that Hegerberg must be paid much less, however that these on the backside of the league have to be paid extra, fairly a bit extra.
“It’s always a little bit like USA and Thailand,” Noseda admits ruefully as she described the hole between high and backside in D1F. “Closing this gap [will be one] of the major challenges after this World Cup.”
One other problem shall be making French women’s soccer a secure place to be an out queer athlete. Noseda is an enormous admirer of Megan Rapinoe and different American gamers who’ve come out or are merely open about their lives, however their scenario is totally different to that of French female gamers. “The main obstacle is the national discourse,” she defined. “In the US, the national discourse — I make it simple — is we’re all different but we all come together for the American nation, we’re all together. In France it’s not this.”
Noseda describes how the French nationwide id emphasizes that its residents are French and nothing else, however notes this concept, ostensibly about affirming that each one French residents are equal, is in follow an erasure of the range of France’s inhabitants. “You’re French and that’s all,” she says. “We are all French. Races do not count because you’re French, gender does not count because you’re French, sexual orientation doesn’t count because you are French, which is of course an illusion… The fact is that by erasing these differences, they make one particular situation as universal. That means Catholic, white, man. This is the universal and the other people must just shut up.”
There’s been progress since Les Dégommeuses started its work seven years in the past. Noseda says individuals are somewhat extra prepared now to just accept that the discourse round what French nationwide id ought to imply and who ought to get to play soccer is altering. And he or she thinks that if Les Bleues advance within the World Cup, it’s virtually sure French folks will take discover and begin to have interaction. “I think that a victory really would fuel the engine,” she stated. “Without a victory…” Noseda made a doubtful buzzing sound on the prospect. And if the French do find yourself assembly the USA within the quarterfinals and are despatched packing — at that Noseda made a distinctly French type of noise, a distressed exhale that got here out as pouffff .
“I have a hope and a fear,” says Noseda when requested what she desires the World Cup’s legacy to be for her nation. “My hope is that the image of sports changes, that women are not criticized, because it’s still like this in France… The fear is that it’s going to be very temporary and that the progress we’ve been making in terms of media attention, in terms of a little bit of political attention — my fear is that if it’s not encouraged enough, it’s going to be just temporary, just a phase and then we go back.”