July 12 – While racism has been virtually non-existent at the World Cup, the anti-discrimination group advising FIFA says broadcasters have focussed too much on picking out attractive females and that there has been too much sexism generally in and around cities.
While there has been no evidence of homophobia, the Fare Network which has been working with FIFA to monitor behaviour says sexism had been the biggest problem.
“There haven’t been a great deal of incidents of the type we expected,” Fare director Piara Powar told reporters before England’s semi-final against Croatia, praising the Russian public for “playing a magnificent role making people feel welcome.”
“In general terms, we always knew that a World Cup creates a special environment. It is an international audience, flying in from around the world. The Russian State and LOC had done a lot of work, warning off individuals.”
But, he said, FARE had “documented more than 30 cases” of mainly Russian women being “accosted in the streets” by male fans but believes the real number of incidents is likely to be “10 times this”.
He also said there have been several cases of women reporters being grabbed or kissed while on air.
“The only thing we have really flagged up which has been significant has been the level of sexism which has been encountered by some women, often Russian women who have been confronted by fans.”
When asked what FIFA could do to tackle this, the federation’s diversity boss Federico Addiechi said it had been working with the local organisers and Russian police to identify the culprits and, when appropriate, they had lost their Fan-IDs and been forced to leave the country.
And, he said, FIFA had told broadcast services to stop zooming in on “hot women” in the crowd.
“We’ve done it with individual broadcasters. We’ve done it as well with our host broadcast services,” Addiechi said.
In the future, both FIFA and Russian football are keen on projecting a more respectable view of women at games to combat sexism.
Alexey Smertin, Russian Football Union’s anti-discrimination officer, said Russia may introduce a World Cup-style Fan ID in the Russian top flight to improve general behaviour.
The Fan ID has been one of the most visible features of the World Cup and the document serves as both a visa and identification for fans. It is compulsory for all ticket holders and in total 1.5 million Fan IDs were issued, with 700,000 going to international fans and visitors.
“We want the [Fan ID] system to be implemented at the Russian Football Championship,” said Smertin, the former Chelsea star. “I understand all the responsibility that goes with having a Fan ID. It disciplines all the fans who come to the stadium. Many of them start behaving differently. The World Cup has demonstrated the necessity of this FAN ID. We can see a reduction of all the incidents.”
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