You are here

The precarious current situation of women’s football in Brazil

Copyrights: Wilson Dias/Abr

The precarious current situation of women’s football in Brazil

Part three of this article series explains the present-day situation and development of women's football in the "footballing nation" of Brazil.

Presently, the Brazilian women's football team is the best in South America, and the 10th in FIFA global rankings. Marta Silva has been awarded FIFA's best footballer six times (from 2006 to 2010 and 2018). The team have won two silver Olympic medals in 2004 in Athens, Greece and 2008 in Beijing, China. In addition to this, the team were runners up in the 2007 FIFA Women's World Cup when they were defeated in the final by Germany.

Unfortunately, the current political forces that support conservative feminine and heterosexual stereotypes are active not only in the government but they also underpin Brazilian football governing bodies, affecting female access to and participation in football. The countdown for major events such as the Olympic Games and the World Cups have resulted in temporary investments in infrastructure, strategies, and projects, but these did not last long.

Continuity in developing policies is the biggest problem that hinders women's football in Brazil. Without a firm ground there is no development in participation and elite level, and no renovation of the national team which depend on good performances by mature athletes such as Formiga (41), Cristiane (34) and Marta (33) to win games. There is no long-term governmental policy to foster Brazilian women's football: neither at grassroots nor for the elite.

The promotion of base categories is also minimal and the current management has been imported from men's football. This would not be a problem if the results were good, but journalists and opinion makers describe the management of the Brazilian Football Confederation (CBF) as ineffective in developing the women’s game.

Despite the challenges faced by the female national squad, some events foster the development of women’s football. Recently, the South American Football Confederation (CONMEBOL or CSF) has forced clubs wishing to participate in Américas and Libertadores Cups to have a women's team.  Since 2019, the CBF also determined that teams aiming to participate in the main national male football competition needed to meet the requirement of having a female team.

Because of those changes, in February 2019 CBF created three new competitions for women: Campeonato Brasileiro Sub-17, Supercopa Sub-17, and Brasileirão Sub-18. There will also be changes in the format of other tournaments. After these improvements on the Brazilian women's football calendar, women will play officially 906 times each year.

The recent improvement of the calendar for women’s football is a drop down effect of FIFA's gender equality policies. Performances as of the Paulista Football Federation (FPF) in São Paulo are exceptions in a country where there are few guarantees to improve women's football.

Significant changes to offer better conditions for athletes and tournaments besides increasing the visibility of women's football in São Paulo are being promoted by Aline Pellegrino and her team at the FPF. The growing number of fans and supporters are also raising their voices to improve a precarious situation regarding women's football in the country.

Recently, the Brazilian team was eliminated from the FIFA World Cup in the round of 16 by the French hosts. World-record holder for the most number of world cup goals scored Marta delivered an impassioned speech to rally the next generation of Brazilian female footballers. The next article in the series will look at the Brazilian response to this years World Cup in France.

  • Ana Costa is a journalist and researcher at the German University of Sport. She is currently writing her master's thesis on the process of personal brand building of German and Brazilian football team national players.


Article type



Ana Costa


Thursday, July 4, 2019 - 12:17