The Opportunities & Challenges for Women’s Football in Brazil

“COVID-19 has caught the entire world by surprise and unfortunately women’s football seems to be paying a higher toll, especially in Brazil, due to the market’s lack of maturity, where women’s football is still very much dependent on the men’s game.”

Last week the newest member of our Samba Digital family started their journey with us. Roberta Michel, however, is best known for her 20 year involvement in women’s football, with a career that has spanned scouting and agent roles with clubs in Brazil, Norway, Spain, France, England and China.

Women’s football has seen huge growth in recent years around the world and Brazil, with its immense passion for football, an increasingly important nation for the women’s game. But what is the current state of the game in Roberta’s home country?

“The Brazilian Championship is becoming stronger and a lot of our National team players are coming back from Europe, Asia and North America to play in our Leagues. Compared to the game in Europe, it is still under development and not as mature, but has an enormous potential to grow.”

And part of that development has been through the commitment of the Confederação Brasileira de Futebol (CBF), who require all men’s teams to have a women’s team also.

“It’s unfortunate that the men’s teams had to be required to have a women’s team in order for this women’s football to become a reality. But it wouldn’t have happened otherwise.

I see it as an important step forward however it should only be considered as an initial push. Women’s football teams should be able to maintain themselves and be financially sustainable. They cannot be dependent on men’s football and clubs have to stop seeing women’s football as a handicap to their structure.”

Once the benefits of this initial push are felt then there will be a greater importance placed in building personalities who can inspire young women to not only take up the game but see it is a potential career. Figures such as 33 year old Marta Silva – a six-time FIFA Women’s Player of the Year and an icon to many.

“Marta has been, and continues to be, an inspiration for many girls. Being an underprivileged girl, she has proven that it is possible to be a winner not only in the field but off the field as well, and this is huge.”

But the COVID-19 crisis has seen sport around the world affected, with some fearing that the gains made by women’s football are in danger of being lost. But there is certainly optimism that things will continue to move forward, though it may take a little time. 

“Once men’s football got affected by Covid-19 (some clubs in Brazil lowered player salaries by as much as 75%!), women’s football suffered the consequences and was left to its own devices. It will be a very challenging year but I’m optimistic that women’s football will bounce back just in time for the WWC 2023.”

Some of the enthusiasm for the future is through having seen how far the game has come over the last couple of decades. Not just in the standards of the play, the structures of the leagues and brands coming on board, but also in the shift in mindset of many who had previously written off women’s football. But more still needs to be done.

“I have been involved in the women’s game for 20 years. Women’s football has come a very long way but misogyny is unfortunately still very present. There is still room for improvement and growth. Times are at least changing and so are attitudes. 

The women’s game has been increasing in popularity and audiences are skyrocketing with sold-out arenas and record TV audiences. I believe the biggest gain still to be made pertains to equality. Once we shift the mentality towards a more equal treatment I believe the women game will reach another level.”

The building blocks are there and once sport gets back to some sort of normality in the coming weeks and months, women’s football in this football mad country will be one to keep a very close eye on.

Roberta is a FIFA agent, CBF Intermediary and Business Developer for Samba Digital in Brazil. 

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