‘I’m glad trolls are now being called out’

Sports presenter and mum of three soccer-mad sons, Marie Crowe is currently at the helm of RTÉ’s historic UEFA Women’s Euro 2022 coverage. The Clare native chats to Deirdre Reynolds about inspiring young girls to get involved in the game and tackling online abuse head-on
Sports presenter Marie Crowe

Sports presenter Marie Crowe

Marie enjoying a game with her three sons, Davie, Billy and Timmy, at the Aviva Stadium

Marie enjoying a game with her three sons, Davie, Billy and Timmy, at the Aviva Stadium

Marie praised Republic of Ireland coach Vera Pauw for speaking out about sexual abuse in the sport

Marie praised Republic of Ireland coach Vera Pauw for speaking out about sexual abuse in the sport© ??  `??_/O??

Sunday World

Football fanatic Marie Crowe says she’s still pinching herself over her current gig presenting RTÉ’s biggest yet coverage of the UEFA Women’s Euro 2022.

But not everyone is quite as excited about the sports presenter netting more airtime as the soccer tournament builds up to a hopefully thrilling July 31 final.

Although they’ll be glued to all the championship action on the pitch, the mum-of-three jokes that soccer-mad sons Timmy (10), Billy (8) and Davie (5) are more interested in hitting her up for soccer swag than seeing Mammy on the telly.

“They pay absolutely no attention whatsoever,” she laughs. “All they say is: ‘Can you get me tickets for this? Is there any free stuff?’ That’s all they care about: tickets, matches and where I can drop them. Other than that, they don’t care — it’s just a job.

Marie enjoying a game with her three sons, Davie, Billy and Timmy, at the Aviva Stadium

Marie enjoying a game with her three sons, Davie, Billy and Timmy, at the Aviva Stadium

“They’ll be watching the games and they’ve picked their teams and they’re excited about it; whereas two years ago, they weren’t that into it. Maybe they just didn’t see it, or it was on so little that they thought it wasn’t for them. But now there’s so much exposure to it they actually feel like they’re part of it, which is great. They’re getting well into it.”

It’s a trend the host is hoping will be reflected by the wider population when the viewership figures are totted up.

Marie praised Republic of Ireland coach Vera Pauw for speaking out about sexual abuse in the sport

Marie praised Republic of Ireland coach Vera Pauw for speaking out about sexual abuse in the sport© ??  `??_/O??

Now almost halfway through, it’s the first time ever that the women’s Euros has been broadcast from start to finish on national television in Ireland, with all 31 games broadcast live.

And while there was disappointment for the Republic of Ireland team, who failed to qualify for the play-offs after being defeated by Germany in December 2020, and for the Northern Ireland side, who lost their tournament debut to Norway last week, 40-year-old Marie argues it’s all good for the game.

“I’m really excited about the whole thing,” she says. “I love football, I play football, I coach football, so to be working on football is brilliant, and it’s women’s football as well.

“It’s only been a few years, but it feels like there’s a lot more exposure of women’s sport. And there’s an awful lot more expectation [from] people as well. I don’t think sports fans would settle for anything but equal treatment of the women’s tournament to the men’s tournament.

“There’s an awful lot more opportunity there not only to watch it, but to play it,” adds Marie, who plays for South Dublin club Templeogue United. “It’s the whole ‘see it, be it’ thing.

“Girls are going to turn on the television this month and they’re going to know, ‘Well, maybe some day I can go and play for Barcelona like the Spanish girls or play for PSG like the girls from the French team’. That’s what you want — ­­you want them to have their heroes.”

Former print journalist Marie is currently seen alongside Jacqui Hurley, Peter Collins and Clare MacNamara on hosting duties, with Ireland manager Vera Pauw, international Stephanie Roche and former player Richie Sadlier among those providing analysis on the games in studio.

Just like GAA pundit Ursula Jacobs, who earlier this month hit back against “out of control” trolls on Twitter, the 2fm Game Onhost admits she’s also been targeted by sexist keyboard warriors in the past.

“I get a little bit of it,” tells Marie, who presents the weekday show with racing legend Ruby Walsh. “Because I can see the texts that come in when I’m on radio it can be difficult to not see what people are saying about you.

“What I find about it is when a woman makes a mistake the automatic assumption is she doesn’t know what she’s talking about; whereas if a man makes a mistake, he’s just made a mistake.

“I tend to not dwell on it or engage with it. Now, look, I’m on a radio show that doesn’t have anywhere near the amount of viewers that The Sunday Gamehas, so it’s a very different medium.

“I can only imagine what Ursula has to go through, and it’s really unfair and I don’t know how I’d handle it if I was in her situation. But I think it’s great that she is calling it out, because it’s definitely not going to happen as much now that she’s called it out.”

Meanwhile, Clare native Marie heaped praise on Vera Pauw for exposing an even darker side to the game recently.

In a shock statement, the Dutch coach revealed how she had been sexually assaulted by three men working in football in the Netherlands as a young player.

Opening up about the ordeal, the 59-year-old explained how she had gone public having reported the incidents to the police after repeatedly trying to have her case heard in “a fair and just manner” by football authorities there.

“My jaw was on the ground [reading it],” says Marie, who’s also a kids’ football coach. “I was shocked. One, that it happened to her and, two, the way she was treated in the aftermath of it.

“But I’m not surprised that people like her — or people in that role — have had experiences like that because all you have to do is look at women’s soccer in the USA. That was only a few years ago that there was horrible things going on within really high profile teams.”

“She’s really brave to speak out about it because I know that there’s other women that will have gone through what she’s gone through, and will get a little bit of comfort knowing that somebody like Vera is also struggling.

“I just hope that she does get the closure that she deserves, and she gets the justice as well. How she’s achieved what she’s even achieved and carried all that for her whole career... it’s just the measure of her.”

Although she’s hoping to get a chance to cheer on the girls in green at the World Cup next year, for now Marie is rooting for France, who face Iceland tomorrow night.

“There’s just been so much chaos around them for the last couple of years, but they have great players, so it’s a case of can they pull it together at a major tournament.”


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