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What World Cup reporters can teach us about workplace harassment

The United States is still catching up to the rest of the world in regards to World Cup fever, but hopefully the sexist behavior of some soccer fans will never make the transition. Twice while covering events for the 2018 World Cup, female reporters have been harassed on camera by fans who wanted to kiss them. The two responded remarkably different, yet it clear in both cases that these women have been harassed as they were trying to do their job and they not happy about it.

The Brazilian reporter fought back

A Brazilian reporter was in Yekaterinburg covering the Japan vs. Senegal match. She was approached by a man who tried to kiss her on air. However, she avoided the kiss and firmly told the man in English to “never do this again.” She was clear in her intention and seriousness, pointing her microphone at the man as she spoke. The twitter feed version of this clip has 634K views, with thousands of retweets and hundreds of comments just a few days after it was posted.

The man, understanding the mistake he’d made, can be heard off-camera immediately apologizing.

Colombian reporter groped and kissed on air

A Colombian reporter working for the DW Espanol in Moscow was grabbed in the breast and kissed while previewing the Russia vs. Saudi Arabia match. Her response on air was to continue the report as if nothing had happened. However, she subsequently addressed the matter online, pointing out she had been preparing on location for two hours and that the fan waited until she went on air. She has called the incident an “attack” and “blatant harassment.” The clip has been viewed 1.4 million times on Twitter.

The Russian man contacted her employer and subsequently apologized in studio via Skype to the reporter. The man went on to say that it was done on a bet with a friend. He claims he intended to put his hand on her shoulder but missed, which is why he touched her breast.

Harassment in the workplace

Good employers want to have a work environment that is both safe and fun for employees. Having strict rules regarding personal conduct at work and with employees at work-related events is necessary. Employers would also be wise to remind staff that fun at work is great for morale, but it should never be at the expense of an employee, whether someone jokingly tries to kiss a colleague, makes inappropriate comments or conducts themselves inappropriately.

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