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Soccer is for Men Only in Brazil

Updated on June 21, 2014
Typical- 20 boys and 1 girl at soccer camp
Typical- 20 boys and 1 girl at soccer camp
Bage, one of Brazil's best female player
Bage, one of Brazil's best female player
Marta- Brazil's best female player
Marta- Brazil's best female player

Soccer, well just about all sports (except football), are free of discrimination when it comes to what gender can play them. Some sports seem to make it seem that only one gender dominates it.

In Brazil, where soccer is king, it is king but only if we are talking about men's or boy's soccer teams. Everywhere in the country you see kids and men playing soccer for recreation, some hope to become the next big star. Unlike in the USA and other countries where girls and women soccer teams have become popular, this is not the case in Brazil where it is openly stated that soccer is a man's sport.

The discrimination begins in grade school. Brazil had a law from 1941 until 1979 that stated "Girls and women were not allowed to play soccer, not professionally, not in schools, not even for fun. The law stated that women will not be allowed to practice any kinds of sports that are incompatible with the female nature". During recess and after school where boys are playing soccer and girls who wish to play are not allowed. Girls who show up in soccer gear ready to play are sidelined. They are told, "soccer is for boys". If that is not enough, the girls are teased for "trying to be a boy". Worse, women who play soccer in Brazil are commonly called "zapatón," or big shoes. It's slang for lesbian in Brazil, not meant in a kind way.

Despite the obvious bias, there are many girls and women playing soccer. Brazil does have a women's team with a star, Marta. In Brazil, she is known as "Pele with a skirt". But Marta is an anomaly because only 1% out of two million registered soccer players there are women. In the USA, it is 40%. What is ironic about this is that 53% of viewers during the 2010 World Cup were women!

Brazil is a very macho country. It is hard on women's soccer clubs and teams, which are few. In Sao Paulo, the popular woman's team, Santos, paid $447,000 a month to its female star Neymar in 2011. Then, because of a lack of support, disbanded the team for lack of revenue. Perhaps that was bad economics but Santos did not draw fans.

Brazilian schools do not offer many after school sporting events and their colleges have none. In the USA, team sports are available from grade school through college for all. So, women who play soccer in Brazil also rely on non-soccer jobs to supplement their income. One woman player, Bage, considered to be the best female player in Brazil and known for it, owns an ice cream machine.

You can find Bage and her machine selling ice cream on weekends or when she is not playing at stadiums. So much for fame in Brazil, especially if your a woman who plays soccer.


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