Five players from the Brazil women’s national soccer team have quit the program in protest of the way they have been treated by the Brazilian Football Association (CBF). The final straw for these players was the firing of Emily Lima, who had only served as head coach for 10 months, but was the first woman to lead the team.
Coaches being terminated for less than satisfactory playing results is not uncommon. Former coach of the women’s team Oswaldo Alvarez was dismissed and replaced by Lima after the team failed to reach the podium at the 2016 Olympics. However, he was given two years to see success. Alvarez is now replacing Lima, and everyone is confused as to why this decision was made.
It is presumed that Lima had been released due to the fact that Brazil did not compete well this season, losing five out of six games. However, many of the players enjoyed working under Lima, who was in the process of teaching the team a new style that needed time to develop. Former men coaches have had a much longer time period to help their teams succeed, which leads us to believe that the firing of Lima had less to do with her ability to coach, and more to do with her gender.
On October 6th, an open letter that criticized the CBF was published. It was signed by the five players who stepped down, Cristaine, Francielle, Sissi, Rosana, and Formiga, as well as three other players.
“We, the players, have invested years of our own lives and all of our energy to build this team and this sport to its strength today,” read the letter. “Yet we, and almost all other Brazilian women, are excluded from the leadership and decision-making for our own team and our own sport.”
Through this, it is clear that the early retirement of these players is the result of a long history of issues, and many of their requests to solve these issues are outlined in the letter. Their greatest desire is for the CBF to start abiding by the international governance reforms that have been put in place by FIFA, and for the inclusion of women at all levels of decision making.
Women’s soccer is poorly promoted and hardly supported by the federation. Many of these players are convinced that their team only survives because of money from men.
Cristaine, the most high-profile player that quit the team, asked, “If this is the case, why don’t [they] create a plan where we can depend on ourselves?” Cristaine posted a video on YouTube of herself explaining why she made the decision to give up on her dream. She shared it with the hashtag #hearhervoice.
“I heard a lot of requests for me to reconsider [from] the girls, the athletes. But I don’t see any other solutions because of everything that has happened. And because of the things I don’t have the strength to deal with anymore,” she said. “[Other coaches] were given a full cycle. And this Coach didn’t have the opportunity. Why? Because she was a woman? Because she fought too much, not only on but off the field as well? These are the things we don’t understand.”
Cristaine made it clear that her decision was not based on the rehiring of Alvarez. She and her teammates felt that they could not make changes to their sport from the inside, so now they are going to try as former athletes to find solutions. The fact that these players have to make this choice is despicable.
The CBF has yet to respond to these actions.
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