For all of the goals, high-energy wins, and devastating losses of the FIFA World Cup, you may have noticed something else: no shortage of hot female fans caught on camera.
Now, in a move that seems both long overdue to many and overly sensitive to others (i.e. the majority of the men I spoke to), FIFA is cracking down on broadcasters who zero in on the hot women in the crowd at soccer games. Finally.
While the fear was that Russia 2018 would be riddled with homophobia and racism, the reality is that the biggest issue has been plain, old-fashioned sexism, according to Piara Powar, director of the anti-discrimination group Fare Network. FIFA has teamed up with the group to monitor the less-than-ideal behaviour at and around World Cup games – from zeroing in on the hot women in the audience to heckling in the streets. The broadcasters have now been given a loud and clear warning.
It’s not just the sport broadcasters and rowdy post-game fans that are culprits. Getty Images was met with an impossible-to-ignore backlash after it published an all-female photo gallery of “the hottest fans at the World Cup.” The company has since removed the gallery, apologizing in a statement, saying, “There are many interesting stories to tell about the World Cup and we acknowledge this was not one of them.”
No, it wasn’t. Yet, dozens of other such World Cup “hot chick” galleries appear on the web.
Here’s the thing, though – and something we can’t ignore: being on such a list would make the day, maybe year, of some women at a time when one photo has propelled many into instant social media fame and the subsequent campaigns and dollars associated with this. The irony is that, at a time when society has achieved a heightened sense of awareness – and an awakening – when it comes to sexism, social media has made many more obsessed with their looks and image than ever before (guys and girls, for that matter). Being perpetually camera-ready is now a lifestyle to some and their image on the big screen is a welcome validation for all of the hard work and attention to detail that goes into this.
On the other hand, naturally, for some beautiful women caught on camera, the resulting attention is likely seen as intrusive, objective, and uninvited – and that’s a major issue. Regardless of how the attention makes the women feel – positive or negative – the act of singling these women out for their looks sends the wrong message to a global audience of all ages, including impressionable little boys and girls. While it may be aspirational to grow up with dreams of becoming a world-class soccer player, one may question how aspirational it is to want to become eye candy at a sporting event.
The objectification women as such a global event also sends the message to media outlets, other sporting organizations, and fans that this type of behaviour is acceptable as an industry standard. Of course, hot fan targeting is nothing new, nor is it confined to the realm of the FIFA World Cup. Beautiful, smiling women get blasted on big screens of countless sporting events and have for years – from hockey to baseball. Let’s not forget that Pamela Anderson was discovered at a B.C. Lions Football game.
Sadly, the FIFA World Cup sexism extends beyond the zooming in on attractive females at the soccer games. The Fare Network has reported about 30 cases of sexism in the streets to FIFA. This, exhaustingly, includes cases of fans harassing female broadcasters – something that is never a good idea. Hopefully, the global stage offered to put this type of sexism in the spotlight as much as the soccer is will set a precedent moving forward.
Really, it’s time we move away from objectifying female fans; other sporting organizations should follow in FIFA’s footsteps in addressing this pastime of positioning women as the trophies at sporting events. Aside from the sexist undertones, let’s not forget that zeroing in on the women takes away precious moments from the actual game, the reason everyone is there in the first place.