Football goes way beyond the game played itself in the pitch. It’s a spectacle that brings together a nation to cheer for their country. The World Cup has always proved a mix of sensations to the supporters. Vibrating every second, crying and even trying to help your country’s manager, even on the other side of the television. In Brazil, it’s visible that football and sporting events are a cultural landmark. But this is not the perception when it comes to women’s football.
Little did we know or saw about the FIFA Women’s World Cup. When practiced by women, football doesn’t seem to have the same impact (and space) on the media. If the first appearance of men’s football in Brazil took place at the end of the 19th century, women’s football was banned until 1979.
Women’s football in the media
Women’s football had media data for the first time during the 1970s. Even so, these records can still be considered timid and with partial information. The news was clearly marked by disbelief in women’s football. The report, published by Jornal do Brasil newspaper, had the headline “Football following washed dishes”.
It’s clear how women’s football was despised by the media. In the 1990s, all sports-related news talked about the aesthetic and beauty pattern above the techniques of female players. The highlights were always relating to an ideal of beauty, rather than their performances, which further inhibited the practice of sports by other women.
Football: an empowering space
It’s not difficult to see how the practice of football is quickly associated with an area of female non-inclusion. Up to this day women and football have been established as opposing and non-complementary sides. But a transformation, which is still slow, was born with the women’s World Cup this year. With red lipstick, the Brazilian player and one of the best in the world, Marta, drew the attention of the world to a cause that she embraced.
During the celebration of her goal scored against Australia in the second game of the World Cup, she pointed to her personalized football boots with a symbol for gender equality in the sport. Six times elected as the best player in the world, the Brazilian shows a public commitment as it was never seen before. Her goal is to leave a legacy for all women in football. In addition, she is currently the top scorer when it comes to World Cups, both for men and women. The player surpassed Miroslav Klose by completing 17 goals in all the World Cups played.
The prominence promoted by the brands
More than 850 videos about women’s football were disclosed by the brands soon as the World Cup started. Three of them have gained more prominence in social media. That’s because those specific videos dealt with gender equality in all fields, not only linked to sports. Renowned brands such as Nike, Qatar Airways and Visa have produced content that honors and encourages a global conversation about women’s equality in the entire marked, not only on football.
It took a lot, but women’s football is starting to gain the visibility it truly deserves. If in the last edition of the Women’s World Cup, held in 2015, little was heard about the games broadcasting and transmissions. Now in 2019, for the first time in its history, Rede Globo, Brazilian largest media conglomerate, broadcasted all the matches of the Brazilian national team in the FIFA Women’s World Cup.
Brazil has finally discovered women’s football. The Women’s Soccer World Cup is breaking down prejudices and proving its commercial potential. Even with the loss to France and the disqualification, there is a great reason to believe that women’s football in Brazil this year has received the biggest boost in its history. Nonetheless, there is a long path to be followed. Just like Marta said in an interview shortly after her last match in the Cup: “That’s what I ask the girls. There is not going to be a player as Formiga forever, or as Marta, or another Cristiane. Women’s football is up to you to survive. Think about it, value it. Cry in the beginning to smile at the end.”