This research aims to discuss the experiences of the athletes in the field of football who are not compatible with the normalized body in women’s football in Turkey, with Foucault’s conceptual tools. We focused on football as a research field since it is one of the fields where gender inequality in sport is most visible. In this manner, women’s football idealizes cis-heteronormative femininity. We collected the data of this research, using qualitative research design, through in-depth interviews. Between May 2020 and January 2021, we conducted face to-face and online individual interviews with nine active female football players, which lasted an average of one and a half hours. We analyzed the data with thematic analysis method. The findings of the research reveal that the “ideal” female football player in women’s football in Turkey means having long hair, being feminine, beautiful and well-groomed. On the other hand, being a football player outside of this ideal is experienced as an obstacle to their careers in football clubs and the national team. Actors in the football field dictate to football players, who are described as short-haired and masculine, to grow their hair long and be more feminine, with various discipline practices. Because of these disciplinary practices, athletes experience serious tensions between their body image and subjectivity and on continuing their football careers. However, the strategies they developed to avoid discrimination because of their body appearance, play a motivating role in their empowerment. As a result, women’s football is a field, where normalization and punishment practices dominate athletes, who are not comformable with cis-heteronormative femininity, but where athletes also experience empowerment despite the tensions they experience.
Women’s football, body, heteronormativity, Foucault, discipline