FIFA President Sepp Blatter, famous for his ignorance about the game of football and his sexist attitude to women, has once again bolstered his dubious reputation.
Blatter's remarks, printed last Sunday by Swiss newspaper Sonntagsblick
, were translated by British newspaper the Guardian
"We will have to look in the market place for other sponsors for the Women's World Cup and other women's competitions than for the men's," he said.
"Fashion, cosmetics -- those would be possible partners. More must be done with this.
"Come on, let's get women to play in different and more feminine garb than the men." Asked if he meant short skirts, Blatter said: "No, but in tighter shorts for example. In volleyball women wear different clothes from the men.
"Beautiful women play football nowadays, excuse me for saying so, and they already have some different rules to men - such as playing with a lighter ball. That decision was taken to create a more female aesthetic, so why not do it in fashion?"
In fact, women play with the same regulation ball as the men do.
Blatter's comments outraged leading women footballers, and have threatened to undermine the sport, which has 30 million registered players worldwide, reported the Guardian
Reaction from players, coaches, and others:
Pauline Cope (England):...typical of a bloke...He doesn't know what he is talking about. We don't use a lighter ball for one thing, and to say we should play football in hotpants is plain ridiculous. It's completely irresponsible for a man in a powerful position to make comments like this.
Kara Lang (Canada): I thought we were taking steps forward, and I don't think that's what we need to lift women's soccer up. I think our continued performance, like what we've been giving, that's what's going to do it.... I'd like to see Sepp Blatter wearing hot pants.
Brandi Chastain (USA): Anyone who thinks that a uniform will draw people to the game is severely off base. The game of football itself is what brings people to the stadium, not what the players are wearing. He should continue to focus on the development of the women's game rather than trying to sexualize it.
Julie Foudy (USA): Instead of talking about tight shorts, FIFA should be focusing on increasing its support for the women's game by instituting another world championship for youth women, pushing federations around the world to support their women's programs, or giving prize money to teams in the Women's World Cup. We'll start wearing tighter shorts when he starts doing press conferences in his bathing suit.
Even Pellerud (Canada coach): It sounds like women's soccer is not popular which is the opposite of the truth. If FIFA or soccer nations are not able to sell that product ... maybe there's another problem than how the players look. Maybe there should be better marketing people.
Evelyn Zimmermann (Switzerland): You can't compare us with volleyball players and, apart from everything else, those shorts are uncomfortable.
Katrina Smith (Australia): There are so many talented female soccer players out there that we don't need to wear skimpier clothes to promote the game. Obviously, he doesn't think very highly of the talent or skill of the women's game, and is more worried about the financial side of it.
Lise Klaveness (Norway): As footballers we have to think practically. If the crowd only wants to come and watch models then they should go and buy a copy of Playboy.
Solveig Gulbrandsen (Norway): If I wanted to wear a bikini, I would have chosen to play beach volleyball.
(Canada): This is ridiculous. For someone in his position to say this is an insult to women's soccer, especially considering how well we are doing. Our talent alone should sell the game, and we shouldn't have to wear tighter uniforms. I'm really surprised that someone like Sepp Blatter would make an announcement like that.
Marianne Spacey (Fulham manager): Surely it's about skill and tactical ability first and how people look second. People don't come to watch what they look like and how they're dressed....Ten years ago we did play in tighter shorts. Nobody paid attention then. How can you wear tight shorts? It was proved 10 years ago when the footballers were running about, male and female, in tight shorts it wasn't really conducive to a good spectacle on the eye....It does surprise me because people might actually listen because he's such a powerful person in the game of football. For people in the women's game, it's caused uproar and it provided a few chuckles in training, that's for sure.
Brittany Timko (Canada): I think women's soccer is already popular and I think that people turn out to watch how we play and not how we look. If he suggests that we should be wearing Spandex, then I think it would be very uncomfortable. I played volleyball and those uniforms were uncomfortable. What we wear now are just right because of the amount of running we do.
Tanya Dennis (Canada): If they want us to wear short shorts then the men should also be asked to do the same. We go on the field to do a job and not to please the people with what we wear.
Faye White (England): To make a comparison with the kit that volleyball players wear is ridiculous. Firstly, volleyball is predominantly a summer sport, whereas we play during the winter.
Karin Lofstrom (Executive Director of the Canadian Association for the Advancement of Women and Sport): We're trying to have our athletes taken seriously. Soccer is not one person putting on the show, like an Anna Kournikova. You need uniforms that work practically for everyone when they're sliding and tackling and getting muddy. You want to be taken as an athlete first, and if you have a uniform that's inappropriate, people think it's sex that's selling it...What sells sport, from TV's perspective, is success. Canadians got up at all hours to watch the under-19 and World Cup games, and it didn't matter what gender the players were or what fashion the uniforms were.
Sara Booth (Northern Irish FA Women's Development Officer): I can't understand why a man in Sepp Blatter's position would make those kind of comments. Not so long ago he was at the women's World Cup where he declared that the future of football is feminine so to say that this is a shock is the understatement of the year. I can, at a stretch, understand where he might have been coming from because, of course, sex sells - you only have to look at David Beckham to see that, but he's put it across entirely the wrong way. We've worked so hard over the last ten years to dispel the image of girlies kicking a ball about and I just hope that this won't do too much harm.
- compiled from online news stories.