- Singer-songwriter Amy Macdonald has sold millions of records worldwide
- She is also a passionate football fan and supporter of Scotland’s women’s team
- Macdonald speaks about the impact the FIFA Women’s World Cup can have
“What would you know about football?”
Amy Macdonald has, of course, heard it all before. But this response - speckled with insults and expletives - to a tweet of hers about Scotland’s national team caused the singer-songwriter to bite back. As she added later: "It was the fact that a woman had an opinion on sport. It rattled his tiny wee mind.”
If the Twitter troll had done his homework, he would have discovered that Macdonald knows and cares a great deal about the beautiful game. A passionate fan of both Scotland and Rangers, she grew up devouring football stats with her friends at school and has devotedly followed the sport ever since.
Macdonald also performed at the FIFA awards ceremony in 2013 – “a mad, incredible experience”, she reflected with a smile – and is married to a footballer: St Johnstone full-back Richard Foster.
“We talk about football all the time at home,” she told FIFA.com. “But I’ve gone from being just a fan to hearing about all the behind-the-scenes stories, and some of those do take away the romance a bit!”
Fortunately, the football romantic in Macdonald has been reawakened lately, all thanks to Scotland’s historic qualification for the upcoming FIFA Women’s World Cup.
“It’s been amazing,” she enthused. “I’ve never known a time here when women’s football has been talked about by so many people in Scotland, and there’s real respect and excitement there. There’s a realisation that these women are doing us all proud. People are counting down the days to the opening match now. It’s brilliant.
“I was ten when Scotland’s men played in their last World Cup at France 98, and remember it like it was yesterday. It’s not been often since then that we’ve had a team worth celebrating and, as a female, I’m so proud it’s the women now flying the flag. They’re such an inspiring team. Whenever I see them, I just think they’re fantastic role models for women and girls everywhere.”
The spirit, skill and success of Shelley’s Kerr side is undoubtedly shifting the football landscape and changing mindsets in Scotland. The result is more widespread acceptance and encouragement of girls playing the game, which – as Macdonald knows from personal experience – is long overdue.
As she explained: “My sister was really good at football – much better than me – and she got into the school team. She was the only girl though and ended up taking a bit of stick. It was difficult and eventually she just stopped playing because it wasn’t really worth it.
“But things have been steadily improving since then and I think this World Cup will be massive in inspiring young girls to play the game - and showing everyone else that it should be embraced.”
Many hope that its impact could be wider still. Might the tournament, for example, help reduce some of the antiquated views and mindless abuse to which female footballers, journalists and fans – Macdonald included - have become so wearily accustomed?
“I really hope so,” said Macdonald. “I think there have been big strides forward lately – the amazing female TV pundits now working in football in Britain come to mind. The obvious knowledge that these women have shows – or should show – anyone who says to us ‘What do you know?’ just how outdated those views are.
“This World Cup will help too, I’m sure. Seeing these amazing female athletes in such a big event should be huge in forcing people to get over any prejudices they still have.”
So inspired has Macdonald been by the tournament, and Scotland’s success in qualifying, that she is releasing a remixed version of her hit single ‘Woman of the World’ in tribute on 14 June. With lyrics that speak of independence and empowerment, it is a song that seems to strike the right note.
“It just seemed to lend itself really well to what the women’s team have done,” she said. “When I wrote the song, it was basically about me and how, as a woman, you really need to stand your ground sometimes. That applies in the music industry but it’s definitely true in football too, and I think it’s something woman in all walks of life will identify with.
“What’s encouraging now is that the balance - in music, football and hopefully wider - seems to be tipping. With everything that’s happened over the past few years, it seems women are finally starting to get a fair crack of the whip. And in Scotland, the women’s team getting to the World Cup couldn’t have come at a better time. I just can’t wait for it to start.”