World Cup broadcasts have long been known for crowd shots, and those shots are often of female fans. But FIFA apparently wants to change that, as per this part of the Associated Press’ running World Cup coverage:
FIFA wants fewer images of attractive women in World Cup stadiums shown on future broadcasts.
FIFA diversity chief Federico Addiechi says soccer’s world body will talk with national broadcasters and its own TV production team.
The subject arose Wednesday in a review of FIFA’s anti-discrimination program in Russia. Monitors identified sexist incidents including fans harassing female broadcasters as having been a bigger problem so far than acts of racism.
Addiechi says FIFA’s stance is “a normal evolution,” and broadcasts in Russia have already improved from the 2014 World Cup in Brazil.
He says FIFA has already intervened with broadcasters “on a case-by-case basis when some cases arose and they were pretty evident.”
There have unquestionably been disturbing instances of sexual harassment of female reporters at this World Cup, so much so that the UN stepped in to condemn those. But it’s unclear that there’s a connection between that and showing female fans on TV. And it’s interesting that FIFA is now suddenly noticing sexist incidents and trying to cut down on shots of attractive women on broadcasts, considering that former FIFA president Sepp Blatter’s reign involved everything from suggesting that women’s soccer players should wear skimpier uniforms to calling a female executive committee candidate “good, and good-looking” to announcing the first female FIFA executive committee members with “You are always speaking at home, now you can speak here” to allegedly grabbing Hope Solo’s butt ahead of the 2013 Ballon d’Or ceremony.
Yes, FIFA is under new leadership, and maybe it’s good that they’re recognizing some problems with sexism and sexist incidents, but “reducing the numbers of TV images of female fans” is an interesting place to start.
That doesn’t mean it’s the wrong move, of course, and it’s quite possible that there are some national broadcasts that are going way over the top with their shots of female fans. And that can be problematic, especially if it becomes a focal point of coverage, if particular fans are focused on too much, if the focus is only on scantily-clad fans, and/or if it’s paired with announcers’ comments on the women involved. And at the least, it seems positive that FIFA is conceding that sexist incidents from fans are a problem, and one that they’re looking to try and improve.
Of course, despite FIFA’s prominent efforts, there are still plenty of racist incidents in soccer, so they aren’t necessarily going to solve sexism. And there are still plenty of problematic incidents they don’t even appear to be considering, especially when it comes to anti-gay attacks. And their focus so far on “show less attractive women on TV” doesn’t necessarily indicate they have a great handle on sexism, either. We’ll see how it all ends up, but it’s certainly interesting to see FIFA going in this direction.