'I will talk about football on TV again - the meatheads will not silence me' (2024)

In November 2023 Chloe Petts appeared on Sky Sports to talk about football. Afterwards, she experienced a wave of intense online harassment. Whatever did she say? It really didn’t matter, it turns out.

‘They’re confused by me. I refuse to participate in heteronormativity and I wore different clothes to people, I was outspoken. It’s hom*ophobia,’ she tells Metro.co.uk ahead of her new Edinburgh Fringe show, How You See Me, How You Don’t, which explores what this experience has taught her.

This online battering wasn’t traumatic for Chloe, she tells me repeatedly, but it has pathed the way for understanding herself more deeply, which she is grateful for.

Chloe also reckons she understands a thing or two about those keyboard meatheads.

‘I think men – particularly those who watch that channel – are perturbed when you don’t wish to do something for the male gaze,’ Chloe says, remembering the hundreds of comments she was flooded with on social media after appearing on the show.

‘I was a woman existing on a channel where they’re used to their gaze being the priority,’ Chloe thinks, sussing out what triggers these beer-gluggers so much about her having an opinion on football when she was basically born in a Crystal Palace strip.

The media in general are doing a great job at platforming voices who don’t meet the stereotypical pundit cut-out Chloe reckons, but the problem is rooted in the fandom.

‘I don’t want it to sound like I’m slagging off the channel. I loved doing that show, and everyone on that that show was so good to me, the presenters, the pundits, like the ex-professionals, everyone was amazing and so right on with their politics and trying to involve me, and trying to make me a different representative to what they usually have,’ she says.

‘But yeah, people don’t like change and they get freaked out – and I think when people get freaked out sometimes they respond in anger.’

Chloe is a gender non-conforming gay woman, you see. Viewers picked up on this and ran with it into the online hills with their pitchforks and torches.

‘There was a lot of focus on appearance,’ she says. ‘There was a lot of emphasis on the clothes that I wore the way that I spoke and the way that I presented my gender.

‘If someone was critiquing the quality of my work, there was always this underpinned hom*ophobia and misogyny at the heart of it.’

But the content of the trolling wasn’t the most difficult part of the experience for Chloe – it was the relentlessness of it.

‘People would tag you for three weeks in a row and it’s like, “Oh, okay, you really want me to see this because you want to affect my day.”‘

While Chloe tried to control what she was able to see, the ‘unregulated wasteland’ that is X meant her filters didn’t keep the wave of hate from crashing onto her timeline and notifications.

She is now off the apps – not because she’s traumatised, but because seeing all the wild insults was just making her ‘a bit unhappy’.

‘I’d never had trolls before. I had comments. It was the first time I had stuff week on week that was sometimes hundreds of people, and seeing repeating characters coming back is difficult,’ she says.

But it’s not the real world – and Chloe would 100% do it all again in a heartbeat.

‘I’m never going to listen to the meatheads and let them hound me out,’ she says. ‘Never.’

Not only that, but Chloe looks forward to her next TV appearance – albeit with a sprinkling of anxiety about the aftermath. Now, she’s armed with the knowledge of how to handle it.

If Chloe has learnt anything from this experience, it’s that football has a long pitch ahead if it wishes to achieve inclusivity.

‘It’s not just about embracing gay people, it’s about embracing a whole diverse range of difference. It’s not any individuals’ fault – but there is some hom*ogeneity in football, and concern with having the correct optics.

‘That means that sometimes if you present differently or outside the norm, you can feel disproportionately excluded.’

As for Chloe’s Edinburgh show, she reckons it’s the funniest she’s written yet – despite all the negativity it was born from.

‘I always try and have the last laugh over over idiots,’ she chuckles. Well said.

Chloe Petts brings her brand new show, How You See Me, How You Don’t, to the Pleasance Courtyard, Forth as part of the Edinburgh Festival Fringe from 31st July – 25th August (excl 14th) at 7.00pm and then on a UK tour. For more info and tickets, visit chloepetts.org

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Chloe Petts’ debut stand-up series for BBC Radio 4, Chloe Petts’ Toilet Humour, is available on BBC Sounds.

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'I will talk about football on TV again - the meatheads will not silence me' (2024)


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