This essay examines the media frenzy around the ‘love-life’ of Chilean football star
Alexís Sánchez, particularly the 2017 announcement of his romantic involvement with
actress Mayte Rodríguez. It discusses the media coverage as a poignant example of
misogyny and homophobia in Chilean football culture, as well as one of the forces
that perpetuates that culture. During the years of the 2018 World Cup qualifying process,
Chile accrued the most severe fines of any country for homophobic behaviour at football
matches. This fact has attracted some, but not much, attention. There are few spaces
of such extreme gender segregation as football. Once football’s capacity to develop
proper masculinity and heterosexuality was widely accepted, football directors, journalists
and fans pushed women outside of the sport. The relationship between homophobia and
sexism has a long history in the construction of football fandom, play and organization.
Media played a crucial role in reinforcing the heteronormative and misogynist aspects
of the sport. This essay discusses how these long-standing prejudices have hurt women
journalists, fans and athletes. Please note that this essay was previously published
in Spanish in De Cabeza.