World Cup draws attention to equal rights, including attire, for female athletes.
With the 2014 FIFA World Cup set to kick off on June 12 in Brazil, a host of topics are expected to be discussed. But one that has dominated the debate in recent months has been women’s sports’ treatment within the tournament. Female referees, commentators and athletes from around the world have been campaigning for greater coverage in the football tournament. They call for the inclusion of female footballers and the scrapping of a host of arbitrary rules that prevent women from participating in certain tournaments, including the men’s and women’s Olympic football competitions. And their campaign has gained new strength on the eve of the soccer World Cup.
The current regulations around participation in the World Cup have a specific objective: to make the World Cup more attractive to women and to attract more spectators to the World Cup. After the competition’s opening ceremony, FIFA’s president, Sepp Blatter, said he has plans to add more female footballers to the tournament.
“This is a very important commitment for FIFA, and it is something we will definitely do,” he said on April 28. “I think it is obvious to all of us that football is more attractive and more popular to boys than to girls. This should change, and we have to do something about it.”
The male-female World Cup ratio is 3-1, but the men’s tournament is currently the only one that does not allow the women to play in the group stage. Women’s teams are barred from playing in the knockout stages, except for the group stage of the World Cup, and are also not allowed to participate at the other tournaments.
One of the ways to make the game more appealing to women is to remove certain restrictions. But there was outcry, both from players and fans, when the FIFA committee rejected a proposal to grant the women’s team more access to the World Cup, such as the right to wear more than a full outfit and special protective equipment. And after an intense debate, the FIFA executive committee agreed to allow four female goalkeepers to play