Getty Images is coming under fire on social media after having published a gallery of the World Cup's "sexiest fans." The gallery has since been deleted.
The gallery was originally published by Getty Images with the strap line "Talk about a knock-out round," and is said to have been publicized with a now-deleted Tweet that read "The hottest fans at the #WorldCup." Some would argue that Getty is simply meeting the demands of those buying the images, but others on social media have complained that it reinforces stereotypical notions of female soccer supporters and perpetuates the idea that women's most valuable contribution to sport generally is to look pretty. This undermines the idea that they are able to offer valid contributions, not just as fans, but also as players, commentators, and pundits.
In response to the criticism, Getty Images removed the gallery and issued a statement:
Earlier, we published a piece, "World Cup 2018: The Sexiest Fans," on our consumer-facing site Foto that did not meet the site’s editorial standards or was in any way consistent with our company values or beliefs. We apologise for what was a regrettable error in judgement. The story has been removed from Foto and there will be an internal investigation.
Getty Images holds a deep belief in the power of visuals to incite change and shift attitudes and we have done, and will continue to do, much work to promote and create a more evolved and positive depiction of women.
Speaking to Channel 4 News, Getty's chief executive, Dawn Airey, said that the gallery was “not appropriate or in any way consistent with our company values or beliefs.”
Soccer has long been associated with toxic and hyper masculinity, connected to a culture that encourages excessive alcohol consumption and tribalism. For example, Project Pathway, a charity based in the UK, has pointed out that rates of domestic abuse against women increase by 38% immediately after England lose a match.
Other campaigners have worked hard to try and improve soccer's image and make the sport more inclusive, citing the growing popularity of women's leagues and their audiences as signs that soccer's culture is evolving.
Lead image via Pixabay.
This article was updated in order to cite accurately the official statement put out by Getty Images.