The Lingerie Football League (LFL) is coming to Australia for two promotional matches in June and July, followed by an official launch in 2013. Founder and LFL chairman Mitch Mortaza proudly states that LFL is “brutality, sport and entertainment combined into one”. The LFL “True Fantasy Football” requires female players to wear lingerie while playing a modified version of US NFL football.
Players are contractually obliged to accept ‘accidental nudity’ as part of the game. The uniforms make it inevitable that these women will have their breasts and more exposed at some time during the game. However, they are forbidden to wear ‘additional garments’ underneath their lingerie, which would prevent flesh exposure, and are fined $500 if they do.
When Tampa Breeze Florida player Liz Gorman was asked on radio about the uniforms, she admitted, “Oh. Well, honestly, I don’t like it, I’d rather wear full clothing. Because when you fall, it literally rips your skin.”
Unlike male US NFL players, limited safety equipment is worn to ensure maximum exposure of the women’s bodies. Mortazza, has repeatedly emphasised injuries experienced by female players when promoting the ‘sport.’
The LFL has been careful to design their so-called “safety equipment” around the premise of maximum body exposure. Martin Winquist from The Sheaf (2012) writes:
"Both the lingerie and the padding (consisting of modified football shoulder pads, optional elbow pads, knee pads and hockey helmets with half-visors) are minimal enough to ensure none of them obscure the usually ample cleavage of the athlete…. Winquist rejects the notion that the game is not about objectification, explaining that, “As much as the league’s media spin-doctors may claim the league is about football and that these women are just like any other athletes, one look at the uniforms, the equipment, the ads and the athletes themselves must send our bull**** detectors into overdrive.”
Women are not paid, or are paid very poorly. Players have been threatened with legal action by the LFL for complaining or enquiring about health coverage and wages. Mortaza has acknowledged the women who played in the league are “former college-level athletes that have few other alternatives if they want to continue to compete at a high level in women’s sport.”
No Australian sportsman would ever accept these conditions. No Australian sportswoman should have to either.
"This is objectification at its most pernicious -- give women an opportunity to participate in a sport that they haven't had the chance to do for pay and publicly previously, but only let them do it if they are stereotypically pretty and willing to do it in their underwear" says Courtney Martin
The LFL has been pitched as the ‘ultimate live sports experience’. We believe the LFL is the ultimate sexual exploitation of women in sport. The LFL reinforces sexist stereotypes about women and further entrenches men’s sense of entitlement to women’s bodies.
The LFL presents women as sexual objects, undermining women’s equal participation in sport. The Australian Government Ausport website concludes on sexploitation that erotic, revealing outfits or nudity in women’s sport:
Cancel the events. Pull the advertising. Withdraw from promotional deals.
The Lingerie Football League must not go ahead in Australia. “sends conflicting and confusing messages to the media, the community and to other athletes. It also undermines the efforts to achieve equal credibility for all women athletes”.
We call on all who are involved in hosting, promoting, advertising or otherwise supporting the LFL to withdraw such support immediately.