Opinion – Renata Mendonça: What bothers you in Qatar doesn’t bother you?

Opinion – Renata Mendonça: What bothers you in Qatar doesn’t bother you?

The first World Cup held in an Arab country began. And it started in the midst of discussions about exploited workers, about banned beer, and, mainly, about the restriction of rights to women and LGBTQIA+ people in the host country.

In the first game, the images did not deceive us. This will be the most masculine Cup in recent times. There was a part of the crowd at the stadium where the first game took place, between Qatar and Ecuador, which was 100% male. The space reserved for Qatar’s “ultras” (organized supporters) drew attention because, among the hundreds or even thousands of faces, there was not a single woman.

In Brazilian stadiums, women are a minority — among the organized ones, they are also the exception. But there are. A crowd formed 100% by men screamed in my eyes. Do places like this still exist in 2022?

I’ve stopped to think about this in the last 24 hours and realized that there are far more than there should be. And it doesn’t have to be in an Arab country or with an Islamic culture for it to happen. In fact, in recent decades, our absence has been very common in these spaces —so common that, for a long time, it was not even noticed.

So much so that our presence has been heavily publicized in recent weeks. The first World Cup with women also starring in open and closed TV broadcasts. A huge achievement, no doubt.

But we had to go all the way to Qatar to bother with that. And even on the teams that are covering it there, even on the teams here, even on the sports newsroom in any Western country that doesn’t have such conservative laws limiting women’s rights, we are still a tiny minority.

If we think about black women, then it is even rarer to find them in these coverages. In the case of a country like Qatar, legislation still greatly restricts the role of women. And around here, what explains our absence?

“I shouldn’t be shocked by this anymore, but the absence of female reporters at these World Cup press conferences is still (emoji showing shock). I sat in rows full of men at the last three of them,” said BBC reporter Emma Sanders on your Twitter.

Until recently, women’s role in sports coverage was restricted to that of a “prop” on the programs. They were there to be objectified, sensualized. We’ve evolved a lot. Now, in 2022, there are more female representatives in the coverage, narrating, commenting, presenting, reporting. But they reach 10 or at most 20%.

And we see 100% male, 100% white roundtables questioning Qatar’s lack of diversity, the restriction of rights to women and the LGBT population.

It is really necessary to question the holding of a World Cup in a country that lives under a dictatorial regime and carries so many prejudices made official in the form of law. But Brazilian sports newsrooms (and many other Western countries) also live under a system (not formalized in theory, but rooted in practice) that is racist, sexist and homophobic. A system that denies space for blacks, women and LGBTs to this day.

Glad we bothered with all that in Qatar. May the same nuisance also happen in the day to day work. May the same indignation be reported to the bosses when we arrive at the newsrooms and find an environment that is little or not at all different. May we stop silencing the voices of women, blacks and LGBTs that have been muffled for so long. May we finally fight for real respect for diversity, in Qatar or at our side.

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