For nearly 40 years in the land of the jogo bonito– the Beautiful Game, as Brazilian legend Pele once called the sport he graced– participation in the sport was legally restricted to… wait for it… men.
Yup. Women were NOT allowed to play football for 38 years by government decree. The reason? Football was considered incompatible with “female nature.” That decree was lifted in 1979, but as the online magazine Good reports, not much has changed in Brazil:
Now, girls are permitted to participate, but are hardly encouraged, despite being just as dedicated to the sport, if not more so than men—in 2010, the majority of Brazilians watching the World Cup Games were women. The committed few who pursue football face more challenges and far less rewards than their male counterparts.
To be sure, Brazil isn’t alone in its chauvinism in football. What’s remarkable, however, is how in a country where the sport is so revered, the culture surrounding it can be so discriminatory, directly and indirectly. It’s even more remarkable when compared with places like the United States, where football is still relatively small compared to other sports, yet its women’s teams are consistently among the best teams in the world.
Things may be changing in Brazil, though, and the woman who is arguably Brazil’s greatest female footballer, Marta Vieira da Silva, is leading the charge.
Read more here from Good magazine.