Men still ‘play dirty’ at World Cup

Russian football fans

It’s a man’s world. I don’t think so. Not anymore.

Times they are-a-changing, says Bob Dylan.

Women are taking the helm, now more than ever.

Laws have been amended, policies have changed. We see progress in places where women were once treated unfairly.

Saudi Arabia, ranked 141 out of 144 countries for gender parity by the World Economic Forum’s 2016 Global Gender Gap Report, is moving towards reform.

The kingdom’s women can now drive, join the military, visit sports arenas and cinemas.

It may seem a small achievement, but this is progress that should be celebrated.

Let’s not forget the #metoo campaign that has taken the world by storm and helped create awareness on sexual harassment not just for men but also women.

New rules to protect and empower women are lauded by men who don’t see women as threats but partners who should be accorded the same respect and opportunities.

Unfortunately, these changes are hard to swallow for some men. Old habits die hard, they say.

Watching the World Cup tournament, millions of others and I look forward to every four years, we see an event that exudes nobility, patriotism and determination.

Sadly, amidst all the positivity and camaraderie, some things never change.

While it may not be as rampant, it is still disconcerting to witness how poorly women are treated by some men.

I was at a game in Russia last week where the fans were excited and rambunctious. Then a few started to grab some of the female staff who were serving drinks at the stadium’s lounge area for selfies.

They didn’t just grab the girls but planted kisses on their cheeks.

I stared in horror and was about to say something when one of the women waved at me and pulled me aside.

“It’s okay. I don’t want trouble. I’m working,” she said.

I was taken aback by the reaction and realised it’s not as easy as it seems.

Such is the job hazard for these girls. It made me uneasy to know they are used to it.

Women are still objectified and sexualised that sometimes it’s hard to believe we are approaching 2019. But yet here we are debating the same issue that was once considered “okay”.

Shouldn’t we be moving away from the stereotyping already? Just because a female staff politely smiles and talks to you doesn’t mean it’s okay to grab and kiss her.

The sooner you wrap your head around that simple rule the better.

We have also read of those harassing female journalists – it’s upsetting and still happening.

Of the 16,000 journalists accredited to cover the World Cup, just 14 per cent are women. Not a big number but these reporters are fighting back.

It is disturbing this is happening across the board and the victims range from cleaners and servers to volunteers.

There are also those who harass and pressure them for their numbers and Instagram accounts.

Is it their fault if they are easy on the eyes? Is that a ticket to treat them disrespectfully?

There have been reports of those harassing journalist apologising. That’s good but refrain is probably better, no?

When a woman is harassed, you’d hear weak excuses like “he was too drunk” or “he was just joking”. Sadly, some of the defenders are women.

As much as women need to band together, men should also take responsibility for their actions.

I hope in the years to come, girls can enjoy the World Cup regardless of the roles they play. It is time the harassment stopped because the argument is getting weary.

Will your World Cup experience be less memorable if you don’t harass women? If the answer is yes then maybe you’re not fit to be in a modern society where women are respected and treated as equals.

Many other men here can do it, what makes you sleazy ones special?