KEIR RADNEDGE in RIO DE JANEIRO: As if Brazilian football did not have enough on its plate, it now has its women footballers demanding greater focus on their own game.
Their pressure has the full support of Lydia Nsekera, the president of FIFA’s women’s football committee who has urged the embattled Brazilian confederation to put more effort into the development of the female game.
The CBF has come under critical focus after the 7-1 home-ground humiliation of the men’s national team in the World Cup semi-finals by Germany on Tuesday.
But Brazil, for its reputation in world football, has no women’s domestic competition of any consequence and all the best players – such as five-times World Player of the Year Marta – have built professional careers in the United States and Europe.
Last year Nsekera, a former president of the Burundi football federation and a member of the International Olympic Committee, became the first woman ever elected on to the executive committee of world football federation FIFA.
She used a promotional update for next year’s Women’s World Cup in Canada to press the Brazilians to afford a higher priority to the women’s game.
Nsekera said: “I am appealing to the CBF to put a lot of emphasis on women’s football so that it grows as well as men’s football. A lot of Brazilian women, including former players, have a part to play and need to work alongside the men’s game.”
Sports Minister Aldo Rebelo said he was optimistic about the prospects for women’s football in Brazil.
He aid: “I have a very optimistic view. When I became the minister I spoke several times with FIFA president Sepp Blatter about the emphasis we wanted to give women’s football here in Brazil and he was very co-operative and declared to President Dilma [Rousseff] that he would like one of the legacies of this World Cup to be fostering women’s football here.
“In the ministry we have set up a department for women’s football, we have set up a task force and we are building a large training centre with R17m already authorised.
“Now we have a school girls championship and also a women’s university championship.
“We also have a great example in ‘Queen’ Marta whose track record is a moral and political inspiration for us all.”
One of the problems of dislocation is that the CBF itself has never made an effort to take a direct governing authority over women’s football even though 15pc of its annual hand-out from FIFA is supposed to be invested in the women’s game.
Marta said: “One of our problems is the culture of Brazil which focuses on men’s football. Of course we would wd like to change that. Maybe one day we will have a strong competitive league instead of our women footballers always having to play abroad.”
For all the domestic obstacles, Brazil are South America’s most successful women’s national team.
They were third in the Women’s World Cup in 1999 and runnersup – to Germany! – in 2007. They were also Olympic silver medallists in 2004 and 2008.
As for Brazil’s awful exit from the men’s World Cup, Marta admitted: “We knew it would be difficult but we didn’t expect that kind of performance.”
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