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French Soccer Ad Goes Viral for Pointing Out Gender Biases Ahead of the Women’s World Cup

French Soccer Ad Goes Viral for Pointing Out Gender Biases Ahead of the Women s World Cup 291
Orange France/Youtube

A French soccer commercial went viral ahead of the 2023 Women’s World Cup for pointing out gender biases in the sport.

The clip — which has made its rounds on social media and has more than 4 million views on YouTube — begins with highlights from what appears to be the men’s team. The announcers excitedly call the game as the players score goals in several instances and cut to snippets of fans cheering.

“Fantastic, what a beautiful team!” the voiceover exclaims in French. “This is the football we love!”

The video then fades to black and the words, “Only Les Bleus can give us these emotions. But that’s not them you’ve just seen,” appears on the screen. (Les Bleus is the name of the men’s soccer team in France.)

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The ad then rewinds back the highlight reel and cuts to a clip of someone editing footage to make it appear that men were scoring the goals when in fact, it was the women’s team instead. The clips of the elaborate deep fakes are displayed side by side, then the original footage is shown. The video then featured the same highlight reel but with the women soccer players scoring the goals.

“At Orange, when we support Les Bleus, we support Les Bleues,” the final message of the video reads. (Orange is a popular telecommunications company in France, while Les Bleues is the name of the country’s women’s soccer team.)

French Soccer Ad Goes Viral for Pointing Out Gender Biases Ahead of the Women s World Cup 292
Orange France/Youtube

The ad was originally released in June to promote the Women’s World Cup which officially kicks off on Saturday, July 22, in New Zealand. Following the commercial’s release, a spokesperson for Orange explained to CNN about the inspiration behind the commercial’s meaning.

“For the majority of soccer fans (and that’s the problem), the general consensus is that ‘men’s soccer is better, faster, more interesting than women’s.’ We also know that soccer videos have a great success online,” a spokesperson said to the outlet on Thursday, July 20. “It was essential that during the first half of the video, viewers would think they were enjoying male actions and the only way to make believe that was to … reshape women into men!”

The U.S. Women’s National Soccer Team, for their part, has been fighting for equal pay since 2016. Carli Lloyd revealed that the group only received 40 percent of their male counterparts’ earnings at the time — despite performing better in tournaments. The team went on to file a complaint for the injustice and sued the U.S. Soccer Federation for gender discrimination.

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The lawsuit was settled in February 2022, with each player earning a total of $24 million, per ESPN. That September, both the U.S. men’s and women’s national teams signed an equal pay agreement promising identical pay for games, tournaments and World Cup prize money. At the 2023 ESPYs, the team was awarded the Arthur Ashe Award for Courage for their contribution to the sport on and off the field.

“What we’ve been able to do is truly amazing,” Briana Scurry, a U.S. women’s goalkeeper who was part of the 1996 strike for equal pay during the Olympics, said while accepting the award on behalf of the team. “There have been 252 women who have worn the shirt of the U.S. national team since its inception. And we are accepting this award on behalf of every single one of them.”

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