The Fight for Girls Soccer in Brazil

“Brazil is the country of soccer… But not for women.”

But not for women. She’s right. Bea Franchin grew up in the town of Bauru in São Paulo. She desperately wanted to play the sport. But with little to no support for girls soccer and societal pressures dissuading girls from playing soccer, it was a challenge just to step onto a pitch.

“Couldn’t you play at school?” I asked her.

“All the schools I’ve been to never even had women’s soccer teams or soccer classes for women. They never even let girls play soccer during P.E.” She said.


Girls have been struggling to play soccer in Brazil for decades. And is it any wonder? Brazil actually made it illegal for women to play soccer between 1941 and 1979. Misogyny created this law. And misogyny kept that law in place long after it was abolished.

Despite this, Bea persisted. Though they mocked her, she played with the boys. “I was never afforded respect.” She told me. “I managed to outplay them because they kept underestimating me.”

Such seems to be the case with most female athletes across the globe. The women perform spectacularly, but still aren’t afforded the same amount of respect as the men. Despite the success of their female players, (hello, five-time FIFA World Player of the year Marta) the Brazilian Confederation of Football is severely behind when it comes to supporting their women’s team.

Incidentally enough, the Brazilian Women’s National Team revolted against their federation. When speaking about the federation’s lack of respect for female footballers, forward Cristiane states, “I’ve dealt with it for 17 years, but I can’t anymore.” This heart breaking statement shows how this affects even the most elite athletes.

“Even in the U.S!” Bea exclaimed. “You have the best players in the world and they still don’t get respect.

She piqued my interest. “Who is your favorite US player?”


Tobin Heath is famous for her Brazilian style flair. “She’d be happy to hear she has fans in Brazil.” I told her. But would she still be happy to know how little opportunities girls have to play soccer? Definitely not.

“What steps can people take to change this?” I asked my best friend.

“There’s got to be a shift in the culture. People need to understand that boys aren’t better. They’re just given better opportunities.”

What lasting change could be made if a cultural shift did not take place first?

Not all is lost. There are people taking matters into their own hands.

Programs have been set up to help girls escape favelas by way of football. The Guerreiras Project leads the fight for women’s football in Brazil. And why wouldn’t they? Guerreira means female warrior after all. Five-time FIFA World Player of the Year Marta has also lended a hand by opening a football plaza that gives girls a chance to play with no stigma and more support, a chance she herself was not given.


When asked what advice she would give to girls who want to play soccer in Brazil now, Bea replied, “I would tell them not to follow the rules.” We shared a laugh over her rebellious advice. “If they don’t have teams in their schools, they should try to make one anyway. You never how many other girls are just like you, waiting for an opportunity to play. My attempts at making a team were unsuccessful, but I met other girls like me who loved the sport. And that was worth it.”

Girls Soccer Network: Living the Girls Soccer Lifestyle

Leave a Comment