The major football event of the world is approaching and Brazil is going to be the stage of this stunning contest, and nothing better than the “country of football” to host the 20th FIFA World Cup.
Despite what is known about its national passion for football and its victorious history in FIFA World Cups, the country also is known for allegedly supporting a male-chauvinist view of football and a historic of inequalities between men and women in this sport.
The sexist history of the Brazilian football dates back to 1941, when a law prohibited girls and women from playing football as it was considered an sport “incompatible with the female form”. This prohibition was endured for decades and was repealed in 1979.
Only in 2004, the Brazilian women’s national team (WNT) conquered an expressive result, by winning a silver medal in the Olympic Games of Athens. The coach at this time was René Simões, a well-known and successful handler of men’s teams.
Although the Brazil Women’s National team has nearly won the biggest tournaments of women’s football in later years (runner-up in 2007, in FIFA Women’s World Cup, and Silver Medal in Olympic Games of Beijing) and the success of Marta, the women’s team still suffers with lack of sponsorship, support and media attention.
Furthermore, it seems the female players continue to suffer a lack of support from their own confederation. Curiously, the players used to ask for more support for women’s soccer, but they did not harshly criticize the Brazilian Football Confederation (CBF), perhaps for fear of retaliation or because they are being repressed.
According to the former coach of the female national team, René Simões, the women’s team is the ugly duckling of CBF. Being one of the main defenders of women’s football in Brazil, he said in an interview for a sports television show in 2013, that the CBF does not like the women’s team in the country. In the same year, during a public hearing in the House of Representatives, he stated that CBF is the main problem faced by female players and women’s teams in the country and that he fears that the Brazilian-WNT will not win their first gold medal, in the Rio Olympics in 2016, due the lack of a project focused on the category by CBF.
In contrast to CBF, the Sports Ministry seems to want to boost the growth of women’s football in the country. The first step was taken by the Minister Aldo Rebelo, in December 2011, when he appointed Mariléia dos Santos, a former Brazilian national team player, as coordinator of women’s football. Other assistance came in February 2012, when the Minister created a working group to discuss solutions and seek improvements for women’s football.
Recently, in 2013, the federal government took the initiative to re-edit the Brazilian Women’s Football Championship (which was not done since 2001) with the sponsorship of R$ 10 million of Caixa Economica Federal, a government bank. The next federal support will be the construction of the Centre of Excellence for Women’s Football, in Foz do Iguaçu.
According to Toninho Nascimento, the national secretary of “Defense of Football and Fans’ Rights” of the Ministry of Sports , CBF spends ten times more per year with the D series of the Brazilian Championship (R$ 40 million) than with all the women’s football in Brazil (only R$ 4 million).
The CBF, pressed by the Ministry of Sport, which aims to achieve a record of medals to Brazil, in the next Olympics, and by the global trend of support to women’s football, hired Marcio de Oliveira, a successful coach of women’s football in Brazil, to lead the team for the next cycle Olympic, modified the coaching staff of youth WNT (U20 and U17), and also created the U15s.
So far, the little efforts made by the CBF to boost women’s football are not giving good results. The U-17s failed to qualify for the U-17 Women’s World Cup this year and the senior team has just been knocked out by Argentina in the semi-final of Odersur.
The most passionate defenders of women’s football advocate the idea that CBF should inspire itself on the successful work done in other confederations of countries such as Germany, USA and France, which invest heavily in International friendly matches, training camps and media cover. Others advocate the idea that an independent confederation should be created for women’s football, since CBF shows no commitment and no desire to boost the sport.
Ideas to advance women’s football in the country abound. While nothing is solved by CBF, undeservedly, the women’s team remains being “the ugly duckling” and the men’s team the favourite to win the FIFA World Cup.
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Women’s football enthusiast based in Brazil. Supporting and raising the profile of the women’s game.