KEIR RADNEDGE REPORTING —- The crisis over a leadership vacuum in Brazilian football has been exacerbated by the walkout of star players from the women’s national team.
World federation FIFA and its diminished ethics committee have turned a blind eye to events within the CBF ever since its president, Marco Polo del Nero, was indicted by the United States Justice Department in the ongoing FIFAGate corruption inquiry nearly two years ago.
Del Nero has been allowed to continue in office without hindrance from Zurich – the mystery of his survival being thrown into sharp relief by the speedy action of the International Olympic Committee this week in suspending its Brazilian NOC over the 2009 Rio de Janeiro vote-rigging scandal.
The leadership failings of Del Nero’s CBF have been evidenced by a rebellion from senior members of the women’s national team.
Star forward Cristiane, midfielders Francielle, Marcia Taffarel and Formiga plus defender Rosana have all quit in a row sparked initially by the sacking of team manager Emily Lima, the first woman to ever coach the Brazilian national team.
Other rebels subsequently published an open letter detailing their complaints which can hardly be ignored by Sarai Bareman, FIFA’s new women’s football department supremo.
Bareman has maintained a profile so low as to be almost out of sight since being appointed last October by FIFA president Gianni Infantino in a shake-up of the women’s sector which saw the departures of experienced officials such as Tatjana Haenni and Mayi Cruz Blanco.
If Bareman wishes to assert her authority now is the time and here is the cause.
Cristiane, in a social media post, said it had been a “very difficult” decision to quit the Brazilian national team but added: “I see no other alternative because of all the events and things that I do not have the strength to endure.”
The 32-year-old forward scored 83 goals in 117 games for Brazil over 14 years which included silver medals at the 2004 and 2008 Olympic Games and appearances in four World Cups.
The subsequent open letter from a further eight angry players stated:
“We, former female players of the Brazilian women’s soccer team (SBFF), are very sad and distressed by the recent events at the CBF regarding women’s football and our Brazilian team.
“Women have suffered terrible treatment as leaders and players within Brazilian football for many years. The most recent example is the abrupt dismissal of Emily Lima, despite the support of the players as expressed in a letter addressed to CBF on September 19. Hence five outstanding female players have retired, exhausted from years of disrespect and lack of support.”
The letter also criticised the absence of women from management positions within the CBF, saying: “To date, we had a former team player (Daniela Alves) working with the national team, and despite the promises, only Emily Lima had the chance to play a leading role in the women’s team.
“We object to the lack of women in leadership roles in CBF; the absence of any structure within the CBF that allows women to be part of the management and administration of football; and the lack of voice of those who have experienced women’s football in decisions about women’s football.
“We players have invested years of our own lives and all our energy to build that team and create all that strength that women’s football has today. However, we and almost all other Brazilian women are excluded from leadership and decision-making regarding our own team and our sport.
“Last year, FIFA made major reforms, such as the mandatory inclusion of women in its own council and the appointment of more women at all levels of football administration.
“Members such as the CBF are obliged to take into account the importance of gender equality in the composition of their legislative bodies.
“The CBF does not have any women on its board and there are hardly any women in the legislative assembly and senior management. There is no relevant way for former players to join the CBF and help manage their own game.”
Lima was sacked after two defeats in friendlies in Australia last month. In all, she led Brazil for 13 games, winning seven, drawing one and losing five over 10 months.
National associations are supposed to allocate a certain percentage of their annual grant from FIFA towards the women’s game but the CBF has never offered any evidence that it does so.
The parlous state of the domestic women’s game has been underscored over the years by the fact that all the country’s stars play for foreign clubs.