Playing for Oman Ghana: Women’s football and gendered nationalism in Ghana
Feminist scholars of nationalisms acknowledge the gendered character of national identity. Due to their association with heterosexual masculinity, national sports teams are one avenue through which gendered nationalisms manifest. Football (soccer) represents the peak of sporting masculinity and national identity around the world. Following the inaugural Women’s World Cup in 1991, women’s football continues to gain global popularity, raising questions about what new forms of nationalism can take root through this sport. Recent transnational feminist research has highlighted how, despite feminist resistance, patriarchal forms of gendered nationalism persist. Using the case of Ghanaian women’s football, I examine how reactions to the national team shape and reveal understandings of gender and national identity. I find that whilst state institutions use their support of the women’s team to shore up heteropatriarchal national identity, some spectators and fans discursively advocate for a recognition of women footballers as citizens and workers. These findings have implications for how activists and scholars engage the gendered construction of national identity.