Footballers' wives: the role of the soccer player's partner in the construction of idealized masculinity

Ben Clayton*, John Harris

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This article is concerned with the media image of some of the women associated with professional football players in England. More specifically, a textual analysis of multiple media sources was conducted, the results of which connect media portrayals of, and narratives about, the image of football players' partners with the social (re)production of masculine hegemony. Media accounts of the heterosexual practices of a number of elite football players were examined. The focus of this examination was not the footballers per se, but the women implicated in their ‘off the pitch’ lives, whose media image, we posit, is constructed in accordance with a traditionally feminine, hetero‐sexy, and ‘expressive/supportive’ role. Adopting a critical feminist perspective, two principal typologies were developed to explore this role: the beautiful, erotic woman and the devoted and supportive woman, both of which, we argue, are complicit to the stalwart hegemonic project happening in English football. A further typology was developed to incorporate the most media‐visible of all footballers' partners, Victoria Beckham, whose ‘image’ is both complicit and contradictory. It is worth noting that certain articles referencing Victoria were the only challenge – in this study – to the hegemonic patterns apparent in the image of the footballer's wife.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)317-335
Number of pages19
JournalSoccer and Society
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2004


  • football
  • idealized masculinity
  • footballer's wives


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