Brazil is one of the favorites to win the Women’s World Cup (WWC) currently taking place, and the team has excelled to a perfect two wins in two matches in group play. Yet for Brazil’s top women’s soccer official, Marco Aurelio Cunha, the talent on the field doesn’t matter as long as the players look pretty for the spectators.
“Now the women are getting more beautiful, putting on make-up. They go in the field in an elegant manner,” Cunha said in a June 14th article from Canada’s The Globe and Mail. “Women’s football used to copy men’s football. Even the jersey model, it was more masculine. We used to dress the girls as boys. So the team lacked a spirit of elegance, femininity. Now the shorts are a bit shorter, the hairstyles are more done up. It’s not a woman dressed as a man.”
Cunha later claimed his comments were taken out of context and were not meant to sound chauvinist.
His remarks appeared as part of a news piece calling attention to how women’s soccer has been largely ignored in Brazil. Sadly this has been the case in the case of most Latin American nations whose women’s teams are participating at this year’s WWC.
Take the case of Colombia, which shocked France last Saturday in one of the biggest upsets in WWC history but is the only South American country without a female national soccer league. Ecuadoran columnist Alejandro Ribadeneira, meanwhile, bemoaned the local press for generally ignoring the women’s national team despite La Tri qualifying to the tournament for the first time.
Rather than emphasizing appearances, national soccer federation leaders like Cunha perhaps should reflect inward and provide greater support to promoting and nurturing players. Last month Mexican soccer officials announced the launch of two new ladies youth competitions that will begin playing in September.
“The CBF (Brazilian soccer federation) doesn’t give a damn,” said Fernando Ferreira, the head of Brazil’s leading sports-development consultancy firm. The CBF has recently announced a $15 million investment in the women’s game yet Helena Pacheco, the former coach of Brazilian soccer star Marta, noted that the federation and affiliated soccer clubs must do more:
The cultural view that this is a male game remains entrenched here. Children’s soccer is divided by gender and almost exclusively offered to boys. It is exceedingly rare to see girls playing in schoolyards or on the beach. There are no soccer scholarships, the main route to professional pay for women in North America, and there is no national junior program for women.
Pacheco says the women playing for Brazil in Canada now will try hard, but she doubts they can win the Cup, because they have no resources behind them. “Even the coach they sent – he comes from the men’s side, he doesn’t know the players,” she said.Teams like Colombia and Costa Rica have been pleasant surprises at the WWC and they could move past the group stages just like Brazil. With enough financial backing, the right structure, and sufficient popular support, the women’s teams in a few year could emulate the “Latin American invasion” seen at the 2014 World Cup for men.
YouTube Source – FIFATV
Online Sources (English) – CBC News, The Globe and Mail, Fusion, The Guardian
Online Sources (Spanish) - El Financiero, El Comercio
Online Sources (Portuguese) - R7 Esportes