More than 150 female sports journalists in France denounced sexism, harassment and discrimination they said they routinely face from colleagues and people commenting on social media.
"It's time for us, female sports journalists, to get united and put pressure" on the industry, the women wrote in an appeal published by Le Monde newspaper Sunday amid global debate about sexual misconduct.
"We want to be at the forefront," the appeal states. "In 2021, sport handled by men for men about men is no longer tolerable. Treating women as inferior in sports newsrooms is no longer tolerable."
Signatories pointed to figures from the top French media watchdog, the Superior Audiovisual Council, or CSA, showing that women's voices were heard in 13% of all radio and TV sports coverage in France last year. About half of France's journalists are women, although they make up 10% of the country's 3,000 sports journalists, the appeal noted..
A documentary broadcast by French television Canal+ on Sunday evening featured several sports journalists discussing the sexist remarks and harassment they encountered at work or on social media.
One of the journalists who spoke out was Charlotte Namura-Guizonne, who used to work on France' most prestigious TV show devoted to soccer.
"I have been humiliated and insulted during an advertising break. In front of sport commentators. Guests. Public...No sanction. No excuse. Never. Traumatized and a feeling not to be protected," Namura-Guizonne tweeted. She cited the distressing environment as among the reasons she left the show in 2019.
The director of the documentary, sports journalist Marie Portolano, said the film was intended to denounce a "way of thinking" in the wake of the #MeToo and other feminist movements. Along with accounts of sexual harassment and sexist remarks, the documentary also highlights the meaningless roles some women were given on TV sports shows where they were mostly asked to look good.
Online news website Les Jours and French newspapers reported that part of the documentary focusing on well-known sports commentator Pierre Menes, who works for Canal+, was removed before broadcast at the television channel's request.
In a 2011 video widely shared on the social media, Menes was seen grabbing a journalist and kissing her on the mouth without her consent during a television show. Canal+ and Menes did not comment on the reports.
Interior Ministry spokeswoman Camille Chaize tweeted on Monday that kissing someone without consent "is a sexual assault punished by law" of up to five years in prison and a fine of 75,000 euros ($ 89,560).
In 2017, a tennis player had his French Open credential revoked because he grabbed a female reporter and kissed her on the neck during a live TV interview at the tournament.