ISTANBUL - Hürriyet

(L to R) Selen Özen, Ayşin Zeren, Birsu Eren and Merve Toy host TV programs on a channel that covers only the Turkish football league. They don't mind critics who say they are on the screen for their beauty.
Four women who are anchoring football programs believe they are breaking taboos regarding the involvement of women in what is traditionally considered a men’s arena.
The place of women in society is changing, said Selen Özen the anchor of a LİG TV television program solely covering the Turkish football league.
“In the past football was seen as a men’s game and the mentality was that the place of women was at home. As the place of women in society changes it is only natural to see women’s entry into the world of football. Women play football and we see more and more good-looking women in the stands. That adds to the aesthetics of football,” said Özen, explaining the increase in the number of woman anchors of football matches.
Ayşin Zeren, another anchor breaking down social barriers, said she is frustrated by the prejudice that women don’t know what “offside” means and do not understand the game’s tactical nature. “Football is a game and it has its rules. It is not that difficult to learn them – on the contrary, they are quiet simple,” she said, adding that she has a masculine spirit which can sometimes irritate men. “Sport is a sacred area for men. They resent it when you try to interfere,” she said.
Yet, gender discrimination between male and female football anchors remains prevalent in Turkish sports culture. While all the female anchors are good-looking this does not seem to be a criteria male anchors need to satisfy. According to Birsu Eren, there is an internal contradiction. On the one hand the audience would like to see good looking women on the TV screen, yet they also say, “What would she know?” she said.
“We are anchors, whereas men are commentators. Therefore, people do not look at what they wear because they have been working in the area for years. They listen to what comes out of their mouths,” explained Merve Toy.
Women anchors however are not upset by the criticism they are on the screen solely because of their beauty. “In a way this reflects the truth. How many of those who are taking part in TV series or shows are real artists? But they are all beautiful. It is like that in the world too. People would like to see beautiful people,” said Birsu Eren, adding however that beauty can only take a person’s carrier up to a point. “What counts is to be good at your job. There will always be beautiful women,” she said.