Sepp Blatter pick for FIFA World Cup draw presenter labelled as sexist

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

File photo of Casey Stoney from last year
Image: Jon Candy.

Over the weekend, FIFA President Sepp Blatter faced criticism from British women associated with soccer for his support of a Brazilian model chosen to conduct the televised draw for the 2014 FIFA World Cup on Saturday.

Fernanda Lima, who has no previous connection to football or sport prior to her involvement as a FIFA 2014 World Cup presenter, appeared on stage wearing a gold dress with a plunging neckline and matching heels. She stood alongside secretary general of FIFA Jérôme Valcke, Blatter and soccer greats including Uruguayan Alcides Ghiggia during the draw. FIFA claims they were not involved in the selection of Lima's attire.

New York Daily News writer Frank Isola said his favorite moment of the draw was when Ghiggia dropped a ping-pong ball and Lima in her dress retrieved it.

Casey Stoney, who was captain of the English women's football team in the last Olympics told the Sunday Telegraph: "Giving the job to a model has sent out completely the wrong message. Unfortunately I wasn't surprised. [...] They could have had a woman high up in the game or else a player with proper international standing. This should have been about football."

BBC broadcaster Jacqui Oatley, the first woman to be a Match of the Day commentator for the network, is quoted by the Sunday Telegraph as saying, "What a missed opportunity. Brazil have arguably the most talented female footballer in the world, the great Marta, five-time FIFA World Player of the Year. Why not use her to showcase the best of Brazil and show some of her spectacular goals?"

Live coverage of the draw in Iran cut away every time Lima was in shot because her clothes did not comport with Iranian customs.

Blatter has a history of making remarks that have been perceived as sexist, including a 2004 comment that suggested female players could get more fans by wearing tighter uniforms.

Christiano Jorge Santos, a Sao Paulo state prosecutor, announced prior to the draw he planned an investigation into FIFA and event organizer GEO Eventos following the related accusations of racism stemming from the selection of Lima as a presenter. Suggestions were made that Lima was chosen because she was white.