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Breakfast with Benz

Tim Benz: FIFA's 'no pretty girls' stance is a farce

| Friday, July 13, 2018, 6:36 a.m.
TOPSHOT - A Croatia supporter poses for a picture ahead of the Russia 2018 World Cup semi-final football match between Croatia and England at the Luzhniki Stadium in Moscow on July 11, 2018. / AFP PHOTO / MANAN VATSYAYANA / RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE - NO MOBILE PUSH ALERTS/DOWNLOADS
MANAN VATSYAYANA/AFP/Getty Images
AFP/Getty Images
TOPSHOT - A Croatia supporter poses for a picture ahead of the Russia 2018 World Cup semi-final football match between Croatia and England at the Luzhniki Stadium in Moscow on July 11, 2018. / AFP PHOTO / MANAN VATSYAYANA / RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE - NO MOBILE PUSH ALERTS/DOWNLOADS MANAN VATSYAYANA/AFP/Getty Images

Soccer doesn’t need America. This much we know. The sport of soccer is a multibillion dollar Goliath internationally with little help from the good ol’ USA.

But I’m sure FIFA — the governing body of soccer — would love to have us more interested.

Why not, right? Getting 325 million more people to become hooked on your sport would be great for the game.

And I think FIFA has just figured us out. I think FIFA has finally cracked the code as to what we don’t like about soccer here in America.

It’s not a lack of scoring, too many ties or repetitive diving.

No. FIFA has apparently determined the biggest reason that more people aren’t watching the “beautiful game” is that the World Cup TV broadcasts are showing too many “beautiful women.”

That’s it, FIFA! You’ve figured us out. There’s nothing that red-blooded American males hate more than seeing gorgeous Brazilian and Scandinavian women on television.

Ick. Makes my skin crawl just thinking about it!

Actually, it may not just be us here in the States. Apparently, FIFA is getting the feeling that too many of its broadcast partners internationally are showing all of their audiences an excess of attractive women in the stands during World Cup games. It has asked those executives to curb the practice.

Here’s FIFA’s alleged rationale. According to the Associated Press, FIFA claims “Fans harassing female broadcasters while they worked accounted for about 30 cases out of an approximate 300 incidents of ‘sexism on the streets’ ” during this World Cup so far.

Someone better explain that equivalence to me. I’m confused as to how the attractive women in front of the lens being harassed by drunken pig fans at the venue is somehow correlated to images of female fans in the stands being broadcast to viewers thousands of miles away.

I don’t understand that.

I’m guessing the suggestion from the FIFA fun-police would be that frequent cutaways of pretty people in the seats is somehow creating “a culture” of boorish sexism at the stadium.

In other words, forget playing the 2022 Cup in Qatar. They’re actually going to play in Sodom and Gomorrah.

I’m going to need a little more evidence before I go that far. Actually, how about a shred of evidence.

Hey, I’m not going to lie. I noticed. I watched the Sweden-England game. Every two minutes, there was a crowd shot, and in each one, the next Swedish girl was even more of a knockout than the previous one.

But what do you think the directors and camera people should be communicating to each other?

“Hey, Jimmy! Zoom in on someone else. She’s too pretty. Find me a 300-pound shirtless, hairy, body-painted guy instead!”

What does FIFA want? Is it trying to body-shame the people who have bodies they shouldn’t be ashamed of?

From what I witnessed, those Swedish girls, like many I saw from Croatia, England and Russia in other games, weren’t acting or dressing inappropriately. They were wearing team-colored jerseys and T-shirts. And most of the cutaways I saw were tight zoom-ins from the shoulders up.

These weren’t purposely framed shots to be titillating or sexual. They actually were simply finding, you know, pretty girls. So what?

I saw more skin in one close up of a Dallas Cowboy cheerleader last season than I did in the whole World Cup. And the women in Russia weren’t hammered and flashing the camera. They were just chanting and rooting for their teams. It wasn’t “Girls Gone Wild: The World Cup Tapes!”

Let’s be honest. This isn’t about “controlling sexism in the streets.” This is FIFA pretending that it suddenly sprouted a conscience. Yeah. That FIFA. The same organization that’s in a constant three-horse race with the IOC and the NCAA for the moral bankruptcy award.

They probably got a few emails or tweets from prudes on their couches who felt like complaining since they had yet to manufacture anything else to be offended by on that day. So FIFA is seizing on this as an opportunity to preen and show the world how progressive of an organization it has become.

No, soccer still isn’t gripping America with more than a mild interest in the World Cup. Fewer — or increased — shots of pretty ladies in the stands probably won’t impact that reality very much.

But FIFA’s pandering attempt to present itself as a bastion of political correctness on a topic as innocent as this one has turned me off to that organization more than any bad soccer game could turn me off to the sport itself.

Get off the soap box, FIFA. I’m not buying this act.

Tim Benz is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Tim at tbenz@tribweb.com or via Twitter @TimBenzPGH.

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