The Sexy Latinas Featured During The World Cup Crowd Shots Are Extremely Damaging

sexy latina credit: fifa_babes / Instagram

As Latinas, we’re all pretty much accustomed to the fetishized roles that our hermanas are subjected to on the mainstream screen. At some point or another, the most famous Latinas in Hollywood (yep, even JLO, Salma Hayek, Eva Longoria and Sofía Vergara) have played some overplayed version of the Spicy and Feisty Sexpot Latina. Still, just when you might think that Latinas could find relief from sexism on the sports fields, an arena where viewers passionate about skill and talent have their eyes glued to the screen to count points, the World Cup season is highlighting just how much progress there is to be made when it comes to our portrayals in the stadium.

Every four years, while millions of women worldwide tune into the World Cup, TV stations and ads highlight Latinas like sideshow attractions.

Four years ago, during the World Cup in Brazil, Kia Motors aired a series of commercials featuring Adriana Lima as a seductive model eager to lure men into watching the tournament. In the commercial, the Brazilian interrupts football practice by driving a Kia onto a field and stepping out of her car in a tiny black dress before a group of teenaged boys. “In my country, this is called futebol,” she says to them before kicking a ball with a stiletto. One boy happily catches it in his groin.

The Kia car commercial acts as a glitzy snapshot of the hideous ways in which advertisers and stations perpetuate stereotypes of Latinas and how they continue to hypersexualize them. This notion has become blatantly obvious when it comes down to the networks’ depiction of crowd shots. I’m talking about the pan shots. The ones that catch Latinas sporting straight mermaid (ahem, never Black) hair and sequined bikini jerseys from South and Central America. The ones that later turn up on listicles and articles with headlines like World Cup: Peru Set To Rock Russia With THESE Cheeky Footie Fans and Meet South America’s Hottest Fans, or Suffering From World Cup Withdrawal? Take A Look At The Most Beautiful Latinas Of The Tournament. Instead of just the true fans that they are, networks portray them as arousing and sexual.

They’re always young women, of course, never your abuela, or cute boyfriend.

These portrayals are an example of how sexism in sports media continues to thrive.

Latinas have made significant contributions to the World Cup not only as fierce fans but as broadcasters, journalists and star athletes as well. This is all despite the fact their presence on the World Cup stage is fairly new. In fact, in the years since, FIFA finally decided to cater to female athletes in 1991, Brazil’s national women’s team has become the most successful one in South America. In the past few years, Colombia’s women’s team has largely outperformed the men’s for wins and in the U.S. where the national men’s team has never won a single World Cup, the women’s division has won on three separate occasions,

Still, despite our contributions,  Latinas continue to be undervalued and oversexualized. As one professor at Deakin University recently pointed out, a Google search of “women fans” of the “World Cup” produces thousands of shots featuring kissy faces, tetas, and short shorts. Most of the women sport cropped jerseys representing South American countries like Mexican, Brazilian, and Venezuela. Do a similar search for men and you’ll find yourself on a results page showing fewer related images that aren’t nearly as sexualized. Instead, you’ll find grizzly-looking men, fully clothed and actually engaging with a game.

The stark contrast in how World Cup fans are portrayed and the ways in which Latinas are so blatantly targeted is massively insulting to Latina soccer fans.

At the last World Cup in 2014 43% of live viewers were women. At the time, a study that surveyed 8,000 Brazilian women found that during the big match 99% admitted to being harassed on the street. Yet, there’s no doubting the ways in which the hypersexualization of Brazil’s female soccer fans, a la the Kia ad, have caused this type of damage and put Latinas at risk. After all, by continuously feeding the loop of crowd shots with images of sexy Latinas, outlets condition spectators into believing that Latinas are less than well-informed and passionate soccer fans. Instead, we’re the half-time show or a sexual perk of the game. Here’s hoping in four years, advertisers and news broadcasters covering the next World Cup give a bit more appreciation and respect to the female fans that support their teams.


Read: 8 Things Every Peruana Knows To Be True When It Comes To The World Cup

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