It’s a global sporting event that’s meant to include and unite all nations, but this year’s World Cup is turning into a degrading experience for female journalists and fans alike.
WATCH BELOW: Burger King Russia ad offering free burgers to women impregnated By World Cup players removed
On Sunday, Sport TV journalist Julia Guimarães was reporting on a game when a passerby attempted to kiss her on the cheek. She managed to duck the man and proceeded to scold him as her mic was cut.
She can be heard angrily saying to the man in English: “Don’t do this. I don’t allow you to do this. This is not polite; this is not right. Never do this to a woman, OK? Respect.”
Translation: Lamentable: Fan tries to kiss reporter Julia Guimarães before the match between Japan and Senegal in Yekaterinburg. Today @shows the report on harassment against women in Russia
In a tweet posted by Guimarães, she wrote: “It’s hard to find words… Luckily, I’ve never experienced this in Brazil. Here, it’s happened twice already. Sad. Shameful.”
Her experience of sexual harassment follows that of Berlin-based Colombian journalist Julieth Gonzalez Theran, who writes for Germany’s DW media outlet. As she was giving a live, on-air report, she was groped and kissed by a man. Gonzalez Theran continued with her broadcast, ignoring the man entirely, but later took to Instagram to express her outrage.
Translation: Respect. We don’t deserve to be treated this way. We are equally valuable and professional. I share the joy of soccer, but we have to identify the limits of affection and harassment.
In an article published on DW, Gonzalez Theran explained the scene.
“I had been at the scene for two hours to prepare for the broadcast and there had been no interruptions,” she said. “When we went live, this fan took advantage of the situation. But afterwards, when I checked to see if he was still there, he was gone.”
Bibiana Steinhaus, Germany’s first female Bundesliga referee, explained that this kind of behaviour is commonplace for female sports journalists.
“I feel for her, because this type of attack has happened several times in the past. Don’t kid yourself that similar misogynist things do not happen.”
These incidents, in addition to a spate of Twitter posts depicting sexist and harassing behaviours by Brazilian soccer fans in Russia, prompted the Brazilian office of UN Women to issue a statement on Friday condemning these events.
“It is unacceptable the deliberate intention of some Brazilian fans to sexually harass women during the World Cup, using embarrassment, deception, and thus violating the human rights of women,” the statement read.
“With low slang words, they reduced women to sexual objects in the demonstration of how misogyny, which even underlies the culture of rape, takes different forms and has no borders, occurring in an event that aims to promote the integration of peoples and feelings of union for sport.”
Many have pointed out that this merely adds insult to already injurious practices by governing body FIFA, which pays female soccer players in the U.S. 40 per cent less than males. Even after winning their third World Cup title in 2015, the U.S. women’s soccer team was awarded only $2 million compared to the $35 million given to the German team for their 2014 World Cup win.
This is especially significant considering the 16 men’s teams which were eliminated in the first round of that year’s tournament received $8 million each.
FIFA ex-president Sepp Blatter once famously quipped that female players could “have tighter shorts” to help boost ratings.
Adding to the sexist undertones of this year’s World Cup, Getty Images posted a gallery of photographs to their site titled “World Cup 2018: The Sexiest Fans,” that was comprised entirely of shots of conventionally attractive (and in many cases, scantily clad) women in the stands at soccer games.
Predictably, the stock photo site received an onslaught of criticism for focusing solely on women and for seemingly making a mockery of females enjoying sport. Many also pointed out that the site misspelled Colombia under a photograph of one woman.
The website has since taken down the gallery and issued an apologetic statement.
“Earlier, we published a piece, ‘World Cup 2018: The Sexiest Fans,’ that did not meet our editorial standards. We regret the error and have removed the piece. There are many interesting stories to tell about the World Cup and we acknowledge this was not one of them.”