09:41 GMT24 February 2020
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    A Belgian sports journalist sparked a heated sexism row on social media after making a crude comment about a female colleague covering an event in Argentina.

    Sven Spoormakers, a former cyclist now working as a journalist, found himself in hot water after he posted a picture of ESPN reporter Belén Mendiguren wearing a low-cut top appearing to show the outline of her nipples while interviewing a competitor during the Vuelta a San Juan.

    Spoormakers added the caption: “Is it cold in Argentina?”

    The now-deleted tweet prompted a fierce backlash from fellow journalists, who slammed the Belgian for “objectifying” the young reporter. Australian sports reporter Sophie Smith shared the offensive tweet with her followers, writing:

    “Please tell me you did not just publicly objectify a young female reporter. Speaking from experience, let me say she does the exact same job as you but has to work and withstand twice as much still because of b******t like this.”

    ​Spoormakers, who was a pro-cyclist between 1998 and 2000, responded by accusing Smith of playing “the feminist card”, and retorted:

    “She knows exactly what she's wearing - or not wearing - and why. If I would interview a female athlete with my balls out, you'd be joking about it too,” he said.

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    The tit-for-tat exchange continued, with Smith taunting the former junior cycling champion:

    ​Belén Mendiguren herself joined the fray to tweet her gratitude to Sophie Smith for standing up on her behalf.

    ​Spoormakers finally backed down on 30 January, deleting his initial comment and offering an apology.

    ​Netizens weighing in on the row were split, as many deplored this kind of “pub talk” by males.

    Many lashed out at Spoormakers after his retorts to Sophie Smith’s tweets added fuel to the fire.

    ​Some twitter users, however, commented that “a little more decent clothing” could help avoid such situations.

    ​And some netizens just saw the humorous side of the while row.

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    Tags:
    Vuelta a Espana, Argentina, Argentina, cyclist, Twitter, Twitter row, sexism, Sexism
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