The Football Museum

Women's participation in Brazilian football

Football's country?
It is common sense to refer to Brazil as the football country. However, a pice of this history is forgotten. For over four decades, women were forbid to play ball as in was considered that some sports were incompatible with their "nature". Only in 1983 female football was regulated. This exhibition aims to bring to the spotlight the history of the women who fought for the right to play ball.

The exhibit visibility to Women's Football came to defy our way to tell the history of Brazilian football.

What to we consacrate?

What do we forget?

What do we know about women's participation in the most popular sport in Brazil?

These and other questions became part of the Museum Educational sector program with its different audiences.

Visibility and research
This exhibition aims to make widely known the history of women who fought for the right to play ball. We share the curatorship with the athletes, referees and field journalists themselves, who had pointed to representative images of their carreers and had opened their personal files to the Football Museum, in order to make it public at its reference Center, aiming to enlarge the sources of research, almost non-existent in Brazil.

The entrance of the Museum was covered with flags with pictures of generations of players who worn the yellow shirt.

Mariléia dos Santos, aka. Michael Jackson (National Team 1988-1996)

Suzana Cavalheiro (National Team 1988-1991)

Daiane Menezes Rodrigues, aka Bagé (National Team 2002-2013)

Aline Pellegrino (National Team 2004-2013)

We had included the history of women's participation in football in the main exhibition of the Football Museum in May 2015. It is the right place for this history to be publicly told. Through the virtual plataform of Google Cultural Institute we want to reach a farther public, that can not visit us at Pacaembu Stadium, or that is interested in better knowing the history of this modality.

"Imagine if you were forbid to do something that you really like?"

Objects of memory of forgetfulness?
Why do we make collections? Albums, postcards, toys, tickets are objects that symbolize our love for football. This sport is inserted in the memory and personal history of most Brazilians. But this collection of countless objects from the world of the football rarely remember us of the women who took part in this proccess. Women that, due to their persistence, contributed to the conquest of titles, places and also to tell that history.
Return to the fields
After the 1941's Act, Brazilian women were forbid to play football. Their return to the field sign, since them, a struggle for equality and visibility to their game. Our National Team was organized only in 1988, and was composed mainly by the Radar players, from Rio de Janeiro, and Juventus Atletic Club players, from São Paulo. This team participated at the first female championship organized by FIFA, the International Women's Football Tournament, hosted in Guangdong, China, a foreplay to the first official World Championship which took place only in 1991.

Norway beated Sweden at the finals, for 1x0, and Brazil clinched the bronze medal.

The competition had twelve teams from six confederations: Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, Czechoslovakia, Ivory Coast, Japan, Nederlands, Norway, Sweden, Thailand and United States.

Marta and Formiga, new angels
Since childhood we admire consacrated players and some of us dream to join the pantheom of Brazilian football idols. This dream also seem possible when girls and boys has players like Marta and Formiga as examples. They held winning records never achieved by male players. the athletes were included in the Barroc Angels Rooms, a proper place to people like this.

MARTA (Dois Riachos, AL, 1986)
With a powerfull left strike and enviable spped, Marta's skill has made her the only elected player elected as World's Best by FIFA for five times in a row, and the greatest striker in Brazilian Team's history scoring 101 goals in 2015 - a deed unmatched by men or women. The only honored woman at Maracanã sidewalk of fame has opened way to the visibilityof women's football in 21th Century.

Marta and Dani Alves in Under-19 selection

FORMIGA (Salvador, BA, 1978)
Playing for over 20 years in Brazilian National Team, Formiga is the most summoned athelet. she is also the only player in the world to participate in six World Cups and six Olympic Games. With quick precise services, good dismantles and an outstanding game vision, the wing player played for Malmo FF Dam (Sweden), Santos, São Paulo, Paris Saint German (France) and São José (SP), where she won three Copa CONMEBOL Libertadores and a FIFA Club World Cup. Together with MArta, she got a silver medal in Athens (2004) and Beijing (2008), and gold in the Pan-Americans of 2003, 2007 and 2015,

The beginnings
When football arrived in Brazil, in the beginning of 20th century, it was only played by the elite: poor and black people were not accepted in the first clubs, but played in the streets and factory floors. The women were suported to go only to the bleachers. In elegant suits of the time, the ladies carried their tissues and twisted them along the match. It was the first female contribution to football, the word "torcedor" (twister), used to call fans in Brazil.

ACT 3199, from April 14 1941

Set the ground for organizing Brazilian sports

The President of the Republic, using the rights assured by the Federal Constitution article 180,


Art. 54 The women will not be allowed to play sports that are incompatible to the conditions of their nature, being the National Sports Council responsible to establish the necessary instructions to the sport entities in Brazil.

A citizen's letter to president Getúlio Vargas

[I came] to ask the clairvoyant attention of Your Honor to adjure a calamity that is coming to colapse upon the female youth in Brazil. I refer, mr. President, to the enthusiastic movement that is exhilarating hundreds of girls, atracting them to become football players regardless the fact that women cannot play this violent sport without seriously affecting the physiologial balance of their organic functions, due to the nature that compels them to be mothers... The papers informs us that in Rio there are at least ten female teams. In São Paulo and Belo Horizonte others are being gathered. At this pace, within a year it is probable that all over the country there will be like 200 female football clubs, meaning: 200 destroyers of the health of 2200 future mothers that, besides that, will be trapped in a depressive mentality, subjected to rude and flamboyant exhibitionism.

Football is unsuited for women
O Dia, Curitiba, June 26 1940.


LEONOR SILVA, queen ambassadress of Vasco da Gama and National Team of 1938.

"surely no one would demand that women would play football or rugby, or punch antagonists with box gloves, or throw iron bars, or grapple in roman wrestling. There are exercises that are not proper and would be harmfull to women, not only to their beauty but to their health, and would be ridiculous".

Novelist Coelho Neto, known as a football suporter, 1926.

Educação Physica magazine, 1937.

"The undred percent sport women, the champion, besides having a below average health, has a compromised feature"

Dr. Leite de Castro, at newspaper O Dia Esportivo, Curitiba, June 26 1940.

Educação Physica magazine, 1937.

But women also wanted to play and during the 1930s, time of popularization and profissionalization of football, they had also learned the rules of the game.

"Do you know that female football was once a circus act?"

Outskirt female tems from Rio de Janeiro, such as Casino Realengo, S. C. Brasileiro, S. C. Bemfica, Eva F. C. and Primavera A. C. were the pioneers facing and exposing this practice to the public. They were invited to abroad matches and carried out a foreplay match in a C. R. Flamengo and São Paulo F. C. match, in the opening of the field lights of Pacaembu Stadium, in may 1940.

"The National Sport Council (...) decided to ask for state governor's actions together with their Police Chiefs in order to not allow, by any chance, the occuring of female football games".

Folha de São Paulo, São Paulo, February 04 1965.

Female team of Casino Realengo, Rio de Janeiro, September 1940.

Bemfica F. C. female team, Rio de Janeiro, 1940.

First championships
In a time that Brazilian male football was three times world champion, women were still forbid to play the same sport. The prohibition act was canceled only in 1979 and only in 1983 the modality was regulated, while some teams and small championships were illegally happening. Only in 1991 the first Female Football World Cup organized by FIFA was carried out. Here, the multimedia totem placed in the World Cup Room, at the Museum of Football, during the exhibition.

What do we know of female championships?

The first female world champioship took place in Italy in 1970. The contest was not supported by FIFA and, because of that, was almost wiped of history.

the Federation of Independent European Female Football (FIEFF) sponsored the tournment. Austria, Denmark, England, Germany, Italy, Mexico and Switzerland took part in the opening event.

Denmark beated Italy at the finals in Turim for 2x0 and almost 50 thousand suporters witnessed the match.

Mexicans and Italians play at the semifinals, 1970

Next year, the second edition of this World Championship was carried out in Mexico - a year after theBrazilian male team became world champion for the third time at the same field -over a 100 thousand supporters followed the danish conquest against the mexicans (3x0).

The Mexican Football Federation tried to stop the female players in their fields. The problem was dismissed when two private stadiums authorized their use and opened their doors for the tournment: Jalisco and Azteca.
Brazil and Argentina were invited. While the hermanas took part, here.... we did not even answered the invitation!

Who are the pionners in the world of football? Who are the women that had crossed the borders of prejudice? We use this space to give visibility to women that imprint their signature in this history, as players, referees, coaches, supporters, journalists; struggling for the love of the sport. To know who those women are is to tell a history that was little known and must be aknowledged.
The first FIFA female referee
From Minas Gerais, Léa Campos was the first woman in the world to referee a game, in 1971, during the female world championship in Mexico. Therefore, Léa had to challenge the military regime in Brazil and ask for the permission of President General Médici, to represent Brazil in the official referee team. Along her history, the referee was arrested 15 times and fought her own family to be able to work with football. The Brazilian was the first FIFA female referee and opened the way to many other referees and assistant referees that emerged in the next years.

In 1922, the newspapers from Rio de Janeiro reported a lady which allegedly refered a football match. The illustration of cartounist Waldo had sitirized the unusual episode with the following subtitle: "if it became popular, the football matches among men would become courtship struggles""


"To referee a football game is no profession for women"

Revista Placar São Paulo, August 20 1971.


Léa Campos in the center of the photo.


The Araguari Atlético Clube tem, from Araguari, a city 585km distant from Belo Horizonte (MG), was portraied in the widely known O Cruzeiro magazine in 28 February 1959. The story called "GLAMOUR" WEAR CLEATS called the national attention as it revealed one of the rare football clubs with female participation that publicly presented itself in a period when women were unadvised - if not to say forbidden - to play football.

Araguari arised when the Grupo Escolar Visconde de Ouro Preto board has proposed to the club a charity match against the athletes of their biggest rival, the Fluminense Futebol Clube, aiming to get funds to the school.

"(...) Women has more fragile bones, less muscles mass, ubiquous pelvic girdle, larger and so less resistent body, lower center of gravity, smaller heart, less red blood cells count, breathing less appropriate to heavy sports, less nervous resistance and organic adaptation"

Folha de São Paulo July 16 1961.


Eleuza, goalkeeper from Araguari.

Perhaps due to their naivety, Araguari players and board wish to professionalize the modality. They had promoted friendly matches among other teams that were also clandestine and had some press coverage.

The boldness of those women resulted in an early ending of the team's history. Some say that it was due to the pressure of the local church, others say it was a recommendation of the Brazilian Sports Confederation.

A photo of a malfuctioning train during male and female Araguari athletes trip.

Radio Mulher (Women's Radio)
In its six years of operation - since its foundation in 1970 until its closure in 1976 - Radio Mulher made history with its innovations and pionerism. Bought in 1969 with the name of Santo Amaro AM by the enterpreneur Roberto Montoro, the radio station had a makeover in the following year, becoming a reference of hwat we know today. From the driver to the sound technician, the 930 AM crew was mainly female.

The program, creaed by and for women, had a football coverage during weekends.


Germana Garilli's, aka Gegê, field reporter credentials,representing the Radio Mulher.

During one of those programs, the first sporscast made by a woman in 1972. Zuleide Ranieri was the main commentator of a match between Soviet Union and Czechoslovakia.


Story on the women's space in football coverage. Zuleide highlighted.

Other important names in the history of the radio were Germana Garlilli, reporter and commentator; field reporter; Claudete Troiano, Jurema Yara and Leilah Silveira, both commentators; and Léa Campos. The former referee was responsible to analyze the referee performance during the matches.


Germana beside Jairzinho.

Radio Mulher reached greater audiences, specially male listeners. Keeping it in minds and aiming for more audience, Roberto Montoro, in the words of Zuleide, "married" the radio, inviting men to join the team.


Semiramis Alves' field reporter credentials during the perioed she worked for TV Tupi.

Little by little, the male presence grew, giving the radio a new frame. Since 1974, many girls no longer worked for the 930 AM, that was closed in 1976 for lak of sponsors.


The reporter Semíramis Alves between Alberto Torres and the goalkeeper Gilmar.

Germana Garilli, aka Gegê, during the broadcast of Rádio Mulher.

Despite the closure of the station, the legacy of women - even if few of them - commenting, covering and earning their living of football was also due to Rádio Mulher.


Léa Campos, Zuleide, Gegê (on the back) and Claudete and non-identified person during Rádio's awards.

Claudete Troiano interviewing Pelé to Rádio Mulher.

Rose do Rio
Whether in the fields or in politics, another pioneer was the player and law student Rose do Rio, from Paraná, which has decided to play football to attack the prejudice labels that female players were receiving during the 80s. Politically commited, she founded and presided the Rio de Janeiro's Female Football Association, supporting other states in doing the same. PHOTO: Rose after the foundation of Rio de Janeiro's Female Football Association.

Rose won this nickname after being involved in an important episode that made history in the modality, in a period that the prohibition act was already cancelled, but women continued to be boycott in field, due to the lack of regulation.

In September 1982, São Paulo hosted the National Festival of Women in Art, organized by Ruth Escobar. Ruth, actress and cultural producer, organized the festival sith the support of the Revista Nova.

It was doubtless a great sample of female artistic production in a wide range of acting fields.

In the ending day of the festival, two teams were assembled, one from Rio de Janeiro and one from São Paulo, to play in the lawn of Morumbi Stadium.

The organization of the event received a Restraining Order and was able to work around it by calling the match a foreplay "spectacle", previous to the match between São Paulo and Corinthians. The match duration was shortened - twenty minutes each half - as to decharacterize it as an authentic match.


Initial kick from Ruth Escobar during the match between women played at Morumbi, 1982.

68 thousand supporters came to the stadium, and at the same time a telegram from the São Paulo Football Federation forbidding the match. According to Rose do Rio's testimony, the male players were supportive of the match, and Sócrates one of the leaders of Corinthians Democracy, said it out loud:

"The public is here to see the female game. They are not here to see Corinthians and São Paulo. So, if they cannot play, we won't play either!".

A moment before the match between São Paulo and Corinthians in 1982.

Casagrande beside Rose.

When CND regulated the practice, in 1983 , the rules of the modality set the duration of the match in 70 minutes, with 15-20 minutes of break; the ball's size was 62-66 centimeters and maximum weight of 390 grammes; the players must use cleats withous metal or pointed studs; and they cannot exchange shirts with the oponents after a match.

This last rule is due the episode occured at Morumbi, when Ruth Escobar exchanged her shirt with a player from São Paulo team.

Our female National Teams
Only in 1988, Guangdong, China, hosted the IFIFA's nternational Women's Football Tournament,as a general rehearsal for a possible Female World Cup. In 1991, FIFA granted the city the right to host the official tournment since they had available plans and infrastructure. On that occasion, FIFA refused to grant the status of World Cup to women.

The only commercial sponsor of the event, the candy factory Mars, took the lead and assigned the tournment the name M&M's Cup. After considering the tournment a success, FIFA renamed the event retroactively as "Female Football World Cup".

Despite having the same name, female World Cup would still struglle for years to assure the basic infrastructure to carry on the championship every four years.

Broadcasting, sponsorship, fields, calendar, public are challenging topics for organizers and, as such, for participating teams.

1991 World Cup: Brazil 9th place
12 teams, 26 matches and 99 goals are the results of the first Female Cup, carried out in China, where United States was the winner.
1995 World Cup:
The swedish hostess fell during the quarterfinals and Norway got into the spotlight, as the invict champion. Even without going beyong the first phase, our team already had Sissi and Pretinha as highlights. In the picture, match between Brazil and Germany, with the Brazilian player Cenira.

Brazilian delegation preparing to the 1995 World Cup, at Granja Comary.

Brazilian National Team, 1995. Notice the male uniform they wore, whose model was used by men at 1994 Cup.

1999 World Cup: Brazil 3rd place
The North-Americans won their second championship at home, as the tournment rise from 12 to 16 Teams. It was the Cup with the biggest amount of goals so far, 123 scores. picture: the ticket for the third place match, between Brazil and Norway, 1999 World Cup.

Formiga and Maravilha celebrate Brazilian victory.

2003 World Cup: Brazil 5th place.
The Avian Influenza outbreak has prevented China to host the event, that was hosted again by the US. The champion, Germany, had a perfect campaing, as the striker Birgit Prinz outstanded and was elected the best player in the world in the same year. Marta debuted in Brazilian's Team.
2007 World Cup: Brazil vice-champion.
Germany won their second Cu in a row, but the major highlight was the Brazilian Team that had the best result of its history in World Cups, with five victories and only one defeat, to the champions. With seven goals and brilliant performances, Marta was the striker of the competition.
2011 World Cup: Brazil 6th place
USA and Japan set the result of the finals with penalty shootouts, and the Japanese won with a great performance of the goalkeeper Ayumi Kaiori and the striker Homare Sawa, elected the best player of the world in 2012.

First sticker album of FIFA World Cup, 2011, that was only sold in Germany, host country of the competition.

2015 World Cup
The seventh edition of hte tournment was held in Canada, with the new goal line technology available. One of the greatest controversies of this championships was the synthetic lawn used in the matches. Brazil had players from its permanent Team, with exclusive uniforms. After an invict campaing in the group phase, Brazilians were defeated at round of 16 by the Australians.

Body and movement are the main features of the football game. A beautifull play, a gourgeous strike, an unforgetable goal... all executed by the feet of football players. A sport trajectory that was presented as a circus act, a vedettes' match, charity events, enduring years of prohibition and a lot of resistence.


The majority of this collection was gathered by the research and digitalization work of Brazilian Football Reference Center, the Museum of Football sector responsible for the dinamization of the contents.

"Do you keep materials that can help to rescue the history of femlae football?"

The major challenge to start to put the jigsaw pieces together is that the history of women's participation in football is <b>absent from research sources and official organs and files</b>.

So, it was important to share the curatorship of this exhibition with the protagonists of this history, athletes, referees and journalists, that had pointed siginificant images of their carrers.

This doorway allowed us to know and scan their personal collections and, thus, made them available at the project Visibility to Female Football.

Therefore, we are proud to have, at the Football Museum, the biggest reference collection on the modality of Brazil. These collections are today the most important clues to begin to understand the history of female soccer in Brazil . Is is available to the public with free cost.

Credits: Story

Exhibition Visibility to the Female Football

Original Version - 2015

Curatorship and texts| Female Football Work Group: Suzana Cardoso, Diego Sales, José Rodrigues Neto, Laís de Oliveira Araújo, Tatiane de Oliveira, Daniel Magnanelli, Aira Bonfim, Camila Aderaldo, Julia Terin e Pedro Sant'Anna
Research | Aira Bonfim, Camila Aderaldo e Suzana Cardoso.
Google Edtion | Aira Bonfim, Julia Terin, Pedro Sant'Anna e Camila Aderaldo
Text Revision | Daniela Alfonsi e Camila Aderaldo
Video Edition | Aira Bonfim
Participant Educators | Bruna Colluci, Claudia Stocco, Ingrid Ricetto, Leonardo Catella

Reviewed Version - 2018

Coordination | Camila Aderaldo e Aira Bonfim
Adaptation, google edition and translation | Ana Letícia de Fiori

Credits: All media
The story featured may in some cases have been created by an independent third party and may not always represent the views of the institutions, listed below, who have supplied the content.
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