Where is the female Frank Snooks or Cerde de Vos? “It won’t work that way.”

Women are getting ahead in televised soccer. Analyst, Interviewer and Program Presenter. And on radio, Suzanne Cliff now provides live match commentary for NOS along the line. But where is the female Frank Snox, Jeroen Grotter, Leo Dressen or Cerde de Vos? NOS, Ziggo, Viaplay, ESPN, RTL and Veronica broadcast live football, but there is no woman working as a commentator.

In England, for example, it is different. Pien Meulensteen (26) reports three live football matches every week for the BBC and Sky Sports: from the Men’s Premier League to the UEFA Women’s Champions League. The daughter of Dutch coach Rene Meulensteen has been living in England since she was four years old. Sometimes her Dutch is a little rusty, and her English is perfect. “If my Dutch had been better, I would have loved working there,” Meulensteen says from her apartment in Manchester.

Breaking the barrier for women in England

She tells how for years media organizations in England have advocated for women to be included in commentary. “I didn’t come out of nowhere either,” she says. “There’s a lot of pressure here to get women into those positions. Jackie Utley was the first woman there ever was Match of the day can be heard. They put a lot of energy and time into making her a football commentator and football presenter. She broke the barrier for women in England. If you really wanted it as an organization, you’d get the women in there.”

In the Netherlands, NOS Sport published an overseas vacancy for a commentating position for the first time in twenty years at the beginning of this year. The hope was that talented women would also apply. But among the 66 applicants, there were three women, who did not have the level that chief commentator Arnaud Vermeulen and his colleagues had hoped for. “If you are a woman and you think this suits you, it is surprising that you do not respond to such a vacancy. On the one hand, I understand that there is a hitch, because the requirements say that we are looking for someone with three years of work experience, ”Vermeulen says about the vacancy. .

Former soccer player Leon Stentler served as an analyst for ESPN on the women’s Twente-Ajax match.Professional Shots Photo / Remco Cool

This requirement raises questions for Van Cleef, who has been a consistent voice for the past two years along the line. “These women with three years of experience don’t exist. At least I can’t find them. I don’t even have three years of experience myself. Then things go wrong when preparing that vacancy.” She continues, saying that most women do not apply for a job if they do not meet the requirements. This also makes sense, because otherwise what are these requirements? Not surprisingly, only three apply.”

Work experience isn’t asked for without reason, Vermeulen says. According to him, NOS Sport would have received hundreds of responses, even from people without any qualities. Vermeulen declines if it is because of the uproar that followed the article De Volkskrant About abusive behavior and patriarchal culture at NOS Sport It’s getting harder and harder for women to make a move towards the Sports Editors. “I don’t believe any of it. Before this hype, football commentators were very difficult to come by. If a talented woman wanted to work for us now, I don’t think she would let the publicity surrounding NOS Sport stop her in recent months,” says Vermeulen.

How do you penetrate that patriarchal culture? Jacco van Sterkenburg believes the hype around NOS Sport could be a reason for further cultural change. He is Professor by Special Appointment in Sports, Media and Diversity. It calls for more diversity and more female commentators.

Excuse the channel heads

According to him, media organizations and broadcasters are not doing enough to get women into the commentary position. “We know from research that the audience’s opinion matters, but this can also be used as an excuse by broadcasters. Like, the audience would rather hear a male commentator. But if you don’t put anyone else out there, you never get used to it.”

The women’s show still seems a little off. Van Cleef – this summer’s co-presenter of the NOS show about the Women’s World Cup – says he has “no great ambition” to make the move to become a TV commentator. A few years ago, Duke Wienya and Hugo Borst took the initiative to train women to become football analysts or TV show commentators. It didn’t get off the ground.

Around the Women’s European Championship in 2017, NPO Radio 1 organized a talent show. Chantal Dirksen from Brumene won the honorary title of best football commentator in the Netherlands. According to the jury, she commented in the best way on part of Robin van Persie’s legendary header against Spain in the 2014 World Cup.

Dirksen, now: “It’s a shame nothing got off the ground after my election. There was such a stir because the football commentator was missing. Then it gets taken care of, but it just falls apart again. How much do we really want football commentators?”

Active policy in the ARD

So it worked in England, and in Germany too. Claudia Neumann was a lead at ZDF and in 2015 sports coordinator Axel Balkausky from ARD thought it was time for a change. He actively sought out women. Stephanie Bacek was out first, and Kristin Graf later became the ARD’s second commentator. From her office, Baczyk says she can’t believe there are no women in the Netherlands. “Acting like ARD would be an idea, but there should be women who aspire to that. As a channel director, you really have to go for it.”

Vermeulen from NOS: “Maybe the idea of ​​approaching retired female footballers for this job and starting some kind of class. See if he does anything. But we always have to make sure we have the absolute best at home.”

ESPN, the rights holder of Dutch football’s live broadcast, did not want to answer the questions for this article.

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Talking about football on TV is no longer a man’s thing: ‘The more women I see, the more normal it becomes’

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