FIFA warns broadcasters about singling out 'hot women' at World Cup
FIFA is cracking down on broadcasters targeting “hot women” at World Cup matches in a push to tackle sexism in football.
It is common practice for broadcasters to pick attractive female fans from the crowd and zoom in on them during cutaways.
Speaking before England’s semi-final loss to Croatia, FIFA diversity boss Federico Addiechi called out the unacceptable behaviour.
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“(FIFA will) take action against things that are wrong,” he said.
“We’ve done it with individual broadcasters. We’ve done it with our host broadcast services.”
When Addiechi was asked if the crackdown on targeting women would become FIFA policy he said that while it was not yet part of a “proactive campaign” it would definitely be a focus area.
“This is one of the activities that we definitely will have in the future — it’s a normal evolution,” he said.
Before the tournament began there were concerns that the biggest issues for Russia 2018 would be homophobia and racism but sexism has proven to be the most prevalent problem.
Anti-discrimination group Fare Network has been working to monitor discriminatory behaviour around World Cup games.
According to the group’s executive director Piara Powar, they have “documented more than 30 cases” of women, mainly Russians, being “accosted in the streets” by male fans.
Though Mr Powar added that the real number of incidents is likely 10 times higher.
There have also been multiple cases of female reporters being groped and kissed by male fans during live broadcasts.
This isn’t the first time the obsessive focus on scantily clad female fans has been called out. A study published by sociology lecturer at Deakin University, Kim Toffoletti, exposed the new ways in which sexism in sports media works.
The research sampled more than 100 pictures from mainstream media reports and found the most popular stories and images about women focused on young and slender fans in the stands, The Conversation reported.
“Sexy fandom” is celebrated as a form of individual expression and personal style, reinforcing the wider cultural expectations for young women to present themselves in sport contexts in ways that do not threaten men’s primacy.
Despite widespread criticism of sexism in sport media, and initiatives to counter sexualised images of women sport fans, the stereotype of the sexy supporter continues to flourish.
For women fans who don’t look this way, or choose not to, the cost is media invisibility.
If you go to Google and type in the words “World Cup” and “women fans” what comes up is images of beautiful women dressed in their nations colours and usually wearing short shorts or crop tops.
Conversely, if you change “women” to “male” in the search you get a much different picture. The only scantily clad bodies on show are covered in colourful body paint.
The criteria for being a male sport fan in the online domain appear to have little to do with physical attractiveness.
FIFA’s warning to broadcasters comes ahead of the World Cup final between France and Croatia.