A group of Norwegian soccer players has deftly dismantled two daft but enduring clichés: one, that women don’t “get” football (or soccer, as the US stubbornly insists on calling it); and two, that they can’t be funny about it.
In a short video made with Norwegian sports journalist Nickolay Ramm, four elite female players, three of them members of the country’s national team, joke sarcastically about how hard it is to play soccer when you struggle to remember the rules, or can’t seem to lift the ball off the ground when kicking it.
Emilie Haavi, a 23-year-old forward with 44 international appearances, notes that it’s sometimes hard to remember what appendage to play with. “I tend to pick up the ball with my hands,” she said. “Suddenly, I forget myself and…’Oh crap. Handball.’”
A veteran goalkeeper with 96 international appearances, Ingrid Hjemseth, 35, said she also finds herself having trouble handling the ball. “[It’s] so slippery, it’s hopeless,” she told Ramm. “I dread the ball going out of bounds. I can’t get it off the ground.”
Only 22 years old, Cathrine Dekkerhus is already plagued by her reputation as Norway’s hottest soccer player. Luckily, she said, she is able to derive some satisfaction from practicing her craft. “My personal best is 25 kick-ups,” she notes, before the video cuts away to footage of herself practicing—and hitting herself in the face with—a yellow balloon.
Echoing an oft-heard complaint, Trine Rønning, the national team captain with 154 appearances, admits, deadpan: “I sometimes watch women’s football on TV. Sooooo boring.”
The video concludes with some suggestions for soccer’s international governing body FIFA, including a transition to smaller fields, and the use of a plastic tees for free kicks, to make them easier for ladies.
The video, part of a series by Norwegian broadcaster NRK, is funny because it hits on and exposes a hard truth: that sport, and soccer in particular, is a deeply divided world in which women receive less respect, less remuneration, and less notice than their male counterparts. As hundreds of millions of fans around the world tune in for the Women’s World Cup this month, Norway’s tongue-in-cheek act of defiance seems even more timely—and important.