April 16, 2021

Candice Rolland: "I'm not the only woman who tells football: I'm the first" | TV

Candice Rolland: "I'm not the only woman who tells football: I'm the first" | TV

Question. When asked about the lack of a female voice in football, journalists and managers of Spanish chains agree on one explanation: it is a territory traditionally so masculine that no woman has even considered it a desirable goal. They do not narrate because they do not want to. Are you a narrator willing to be one or because someone has decided one day to assign the task?

Answer. Since I have memory I have always wanted to narrate. I would be 11 years old when I made the decision, and then I had to make it very clear, to express that will, in all the newsrooms that I worked on because, of course, nobody thought that a woman wanted to narrate. And I remember that more than one was surprised when I told him.

P. Was it very complicated to arrive, being a woman?

R. I started working in a small radio, where everything was possible. We were young, we were there to learn and they immediately accepted my desire to narrate the games. Of course it was not perfect what I was doing, but it was a start and, at least, my bosses knew what I wanted. I settled down and ended up narrating matches on the RTL, the first radio station in France, and from there the jump to the TV was fast, to Orange, the pay chain that had the rights of the League and that has already disappeared. We were already in 2012, more or less. I started with Bundesliga matches [Liga alemana] that narrated from the studio with a specialist next door, but when my career took a definite form was when I went to L'Équipe TV, an open and free chain, with a potentially much larger audience.

P. Do you feel a pioneer, then?

R. Honestly, I have never analyzed my career thinking that I was a pioneer or an example for others. I've been forced to appear like that in recent months because I've already told the League of Nations of national teams, and that has made my work more visible.

P. Are you surprised to be the only woman in France and one of the few in Europe?

R. No, I do not see anything strange being the only woman who narrates games because our football culture and our way of consuming it has excluded women's entire lives, and everyone has accepted it without asking if it could be done otherwise. But things are changing. There are already more female specialists and we are also asked to give women our opinion about football, and I narrate it. What would be a surprise to me would be that we stay in this. I like to say that I'm not the only one, only the first one. The following are already on the way.

R. Do you think there are so few because the bosses do not trust you, because maybe they think that the audience might sound weird?

R. Yes, you could say that those responsible for the chains do not trust women, but that is not all. Do women want to narrate games? I have not met any journalist who told me that she wanted to tell. The women journalists aspire above all to be presenters, to make reports or to take the wireless to do interviews in the lawn, but they do not show interest in narrating. And if anyone wanted it, I hope you have raised it with your bosses. But, of course, also the bosses need more courage to entrust women to narrate parties. I think that is a great commitment for those responsible.

P. Of course, it is still a masculine territory: men are there by natural right and women can be seen as invaders …

R. Effectively! The narrative is the last bastion to conquer. Most men want to narrate because it is a function with a lot of prestige, that has a history. Many fans have linked the name, the voice, of a determined narrator to a party that has marked him, there is action and there are words. In France, for example, everyone remembers the story that accompanied the last seconds of the France-Brazil of the final of the 98 World Cup or the moment of the expulsion of Zidane in the 2006 final or, right now, the goal of Pavard against Argentina in the World Cup in Russia …

P. And, besides, I'm sure men do not like a woman to explain soccer to them …

R. I do not intend to explain football to the spectators, it would be a ridiculous pretense. In minority sports it would make sense to do it more than anything with a pedagogical sense, but football is not explained, but the keys are looked for, and that role corresponds to the specialists, who are mostly ex-football players. My role is to make my specialist shine by looking for complicity, chemistry, with him, and, above all, in making the moment live, in turning it emotionally very intense. But, of course, you always think that some people can touch their certainties, swing their habits, I speak of a conservative fringe of football for whom the woman's place is the kitchen, and, of course, I will not apologize for preferring a microphone to a casserole.


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