International broadcasters have been ordered to stop focusing on "hot women" fans attending 2018 World Cup matches in an effort to tackle sexism. Soccer governing body FIFA has instructed television broadcasters to avoid cutting away to attractive women celebrating in the stands during games.
"We've done it with individual broadcasters. We've done it with our host broadcast services," said FIFA diversity chief Federico Addiechi, according to The Hollywood Reporter. He added that while FIFA was not yet being “proactive” about the policy, it would soon “take action against things that are wrong.”
The instructions come after a review of FIFA's anti-discrimination program in Russia, when experts identified sexist incidents including fans harassing female broadcasters while they worked. At a briefing on Wednesday, Addiechi acknowledged the sexist incidents and said FIFA planned to talk with national broadcasters and its own TV production team about the issue.
Piara Powar, director of the Fare network, said about half of those reported incidents involved female broadcasters being "accosted while on air," estimating that Russian women were targeted up to 10 times more in unreported cases, USA TODAY reports.
Addiechi said FIFA has been working with Russian police to identify fans who have assaulted female reporters and that some of them have lost their FAN-IDs and been forced to leave the country as a result. FAN-IDs are the documents required for all spectators to access World Cup stadiums.
Ahead of Russia 2018, instances of racism and homophobia were feared, with many pointing to Russia's notorious anti-gay legislation and to previous incidents involving Russian fans engaging in racist chants and matches. Instead, sexism has been the main focus of discrimination.
The issue was highlighted when, during Russia 2018, photo agency Getty Images found itself in hot water after it published a photo gallery of "the hottest fans at the World Cup." Getty later removed the gallery and called it a "regrettable error in judgment," adding that an internal investigation would be made.
Many were alerted to the issue when a female World Cup broadcaster lectured a fan who attempted to kiss her while she was reporting on the Japan v. Senegal game in June. In the incident that was captured on video, Julia Guimarães, a reporter with TV Globo and SporTV in Brazil, was shown dodging the man's advances before issuing a stern warning.
“Don't do this. Never do this again, OK? I don't allow you to do that, never. OK? This is not polite. This is not right. Never do this. Never do this to a woman, OK? Respect,” she can be heard scolding the fan, who quickly began to back away and apologize.
Guimarães told Globo Esporte that it was the second time a fan had tried to kiss her while reporting at the 2018 World Cup, and added that general harassment ranges from aggressive looks to songs to attempted unwanted kisses.
“It's awful. I feel helpless, vulnerable. This time I gave an answer, but it's sad, people do not understand. I wanted to understand why he thinks he has a right to do that.”