The construction of compulsory heterosexuality by referees in women's football in Turkey


JOURNAL OF GENDER STUDIES, 2021 (SSCI İndekslerine Giren Dergi) identifier identifier


Football is an area of activity that ratifies power relations based on gender and feeds heterosexism, homophobia, and discrimination in Turkey. Accordingly, and as is seen in other countries, the body and sexuality of women footballers is the subject of considerable debate. The enforcement of compulsory heterosexuality and heteronormativity are reproduced by many actors in football. In this research, based on a feminist perspective, the experience of female footballers is examined, along with how the decisions and behaviours of the referees are shaped by the appearance of the player. In-depth individual interviews with eight elite level female footballers and seven referees were conducted and the themes analysed. The findings suggest that the referees' decisions and behaviours on the field are not always equal and may vary with the physical appearance of players. Referees appear to discriminate particularly against short-haired and 'masculine' footballers while favouring long-haired and 'feminine' players. As a result, referees may reconstruct compulsory heterosexuality through a homophobic approach to the players.