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“I Don't See Why It Should Be So Surprising”: Black Women Football Fans On The Beautiful Game

When you think of football fans, it’s interesting to relay what images might come to mind. Maybe red-faced, sweating white men packed en-masse like sardines, but you probably wouldn’t think to place a black woman amongst the faces in the picture. But there are some supporters out there who’d want to change your mind.

Samantha is based in Leeds and has been an Arsenal fan for the past 27 years.

“It started when I was 13,” she says. “My stepdad was obsessed with football and we only had one telly, so I was forced to watch it.”

Though she didn’t like viewing at first, something eventually clicked, and she now considers being a fan one of her greatest passions.

“Eventually I watched as often as I could, I even used to buy football magazines and put posters of players on the walls! It's been an obsession for many years now.”

For die-hard viewers like Sam, being a fan is more than simple entertainment; it’s deeply interwoven into social life, how leisure time is spent and often one of the first qualities shared when meeting new people. But despite wanting to participate, the social landscape surrounding the sport means being a black woman fan can come with its drawbacks, particularly around issues of belonging.