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17 Jan 2018 4:00
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  •   Home > News > Sports > Tennis

    Barcelona Open courtside models reveal health issues, fines handed down for sexual discrimination

    Massive fines of up to $287,000 are handed down after courtside models revealed the extent of the health issues suffered from a combination of cold weather and skimpy outfits at the Barcelona Open.


    If you've ever wondered how the hostesses and models employed to work at sports events manage to put up with the most difficult of weather conditions, the answer is simple — they often struggle.

    The women are paid to stand courtside, trackside or ringside — rain, hail or shine — in illogically skimpy outfits as a sort of sideshow to the on-field action happening around them.

    And sometimes, as it did at the Barcelona Open last May, it gets cold.

    Not even temperatures lower than 10 degrees Celsius and intermittent rain could force organisers to allow the models to wear any more than the short-sleeved shirts and mini skirts, as the women held umbrellas for the professional tennis players and the crowd rugged up.

    Unsurprisingly, the models got sick.

    "Me and my colleagues almost every night had fevers because we left the matches already with a fever," one of the models said in a public statement.

    "I left with migraine and fever from the matches.

    "Every night, sick. It was working in these conditions in which your teeth chattered, directly against your health and dignity."

    But this time, after Spain's General Workers Union (UGT) raised the issue with a workplace health and safety watchdog, action has been taken and fines have been handed down for "sexual discrimination at work".

    Both Schweppes, who sponsored the Barcelona Open and hired the models, and Tote Vignau, the agency that provided them, are now facing very serious sanctions and fines ranging between $15,000 and $287,000.

    "Unfortunately, UGT-Catalunya has not been wrong," the UGT said in a statement.

    "The Work Inspection has been able to see what everyone saw and we denounced — the use of the body of eight women as advertising in the Conde de Godó Trophy contest of Barcelona, and also the lack of guarantees of … the preventive activities in work hazards risks for the female workers from Barcelona's Tennis Real Club."

    These findings could open the door for models around the world to raise similar concerns — though initial reports of illness in Barcelona were allegedly "dismissed" by organisers — as questions continue to be asked about the necessity and taste of using these models.

    The South Australian Government scrapped podium girls at the Tour Down Under and grid girls at the Clipsal 500, but scantily-clad models, hostesses and cheerleaders remain prevalent at sporting events the world over.

    But perhaps now, at least the health of the women will be protected.

    © 2018 ABC Australian Broadcasting Corporation. All rights reserved


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