Since footballer sexual assault became top news in 2004, six
years after the first case was reported, much has been written in
the news media about individual cases, footballers and women who
have sex with them. Deb Waterhouse-Watson reveals how media
representations of recent sexual assault cases involving Australian
footballers amount to "trials by media", trials that result in
acquittal. The stories told about footballers and women in the news
media evoke stereotypes such as the "gold digger", "woman scorned"
and the "predatory woman", which cast doubt on the alleged victims'
claims and suggest that they are lying. Waterhouse-Watson calls
this a "narrative immunity" for footballers against allegations of
This book details how popular conceptions of masculinity and
femininity inform the way footballers' bodies, team bonding, women,
sex and alcohol are portrayed in the media, and connects stories
relating to the cases with sports reporting generally. Uncovering
similar patterns of narrative, grammar and discourse across these
distinct yet related fields, Waterhouse-Watson shows how these
discourses are naturalised, with reports on the cases intertwining
with broader discourses of football reporting to provide immunity.
Despite the prevalence of stories that discredit the alleged
victims, Waterhouse-Watson also examines attempts to counter these
pervasive rape myths, articulating successful strategies and
elucidating the limitations built into journalistic practices, and