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Dangerous Liaisons, Fatal Women: The Fear and Fantasy of Soccer Wives and Girlfriends in Spain

Critical feminist analysis has produced much important work on women in the gender regime of men’s sport. The protagonists of these studies have been mostly female athletes, fans, managers and journalists. This article focuses on yet another female persona in men’s sport: the lover. Complementing research that identifies wives and girlfriends (WAGs) as helpmates who fulfill traditional auxiliary roles to their athlete partners, this article presents another sexual persona through the Spanish soccer scene: femmes fatales or ‘fatal women’. Through fantasy narratives, these WAGs are constructed as ‘dangerous destabilizers’ that threaten elite male sport performance through their sexuality. The presence of female fans, athletes and professionals in men’s sport has often provoked redressive actions such as techniques of sexualization, the denial of authentic female fandom and expertise, or the prescription of gender-appropriate behaviors and aspirations. Complementing critical feminist research on these mechanisms, and with an attempt to gain a wider perspective of female presence in men’s sport, this article explores the often contradictory reactions to ‘fatal women’: demonization, fetishization, the pathologization of sex and the proliferation of erotic fantasies.