Author Topic: The Brazilian Women Demand More Support  (Read 879 times)

Offline David

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The Brazilian Women Demand More Support
« on: October 03, 2007, 07:07:02 AM »
Brazilian soccer officials are falling all over themselves the last few days establishing new women’s football competitions to make up for their longstanding neglect of the women’s game — all in response to the seleção feminina’s second-place finish in the World Cup and championship in last summer’s Pan American Games. Brazilian federation president Ricardo Teixeira has announced that a national women’s championship will begin next season, and the Rio state government said that starting in January it will sponsor a state women’s championship, with matches to be played as doubleheaders ahead of men’s games. Even the president of Brazil, Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, said, “We need to give more attention to women’s soccer, because they by their own effort have become a motive of pride for all of us Brazilians.”

But that has not impressed the Brazil national women’s team itself, which on Sunday night faxed a list of demands for greater support to the Brazilian federation from its hotel in Shanghai. The letter was signed by all 21 players on the team.

The contents of the letter, which called for bigger and prompter payments for victories in international competitions, more preparation matches, and other changes, were published today in the Brazilian daily O Globo, in an article brought to our attention by a Portuguese-speaking reader of this blog.

According to the Globo article, the Brazilian players stayed up late Sunday to compose and send the letter because they did not believe the federation’s pledges of greater support for the women’s national team and for women’s soccer in Brazil. They cited as example the improvements that were not made after the women’s national team won the Olympic silver medal at Athens in 2004.

Among the women’s demands was for greater transparency in award money for high finishes in international tournament. In the World Cup, for example, the Brazilian federation received $850,000 (US) from FIFA for the team’s second-place finish. The players say they are still unaware how much each of them will receive from that amount. The players are also demanding bonus money for their gold-medal finish at the Pan Am Games, which they say they still have not been paid. According to O Globo, it took two years for the 2004 Olympic team players to receive their bonus money for the silver medal at Athens.

The Brazil women are asking for a raise in their daily expense stipend from the current $35 (US) when playing abroad; a restoration of the team cook, a position that was left vacant at the start of the year as a cost-cutting measure (supposedly the absence of typical Brazilian foods like beans while the team were in China lengthened Formiga’s recovery time from leg cramps); and a greater number of matches for the national team, which currently has nothing scheduled until April.

At the conclusion of the letter, the players said that they have fulfilled their duty and have always given the maximum for the national team, Globo reports. The letter ends with the following phrase, in capital letters: “We need support”.

A spokesman for the Brazilian federation (the CBF) told O Globo that the federation will make a single reward payment to the players to cover both the World Cup second place and the Pan Am gold. He did not specify the amount of the payment. The spokesman, Rodrigo Pavia, also said that the federation was willing to negiotiate the question of daily expenses and other matters.

Pavia said that since 2003 the Brazilian federation has spent about $2 million annually on women’s soccer and also set up a number of games in preparation for the 2007 World Cup. “If people are looking for a villain in this, it’s someone else,” Pavia told O Globo. “The CBF is the only one that has invested in women’s soccer.”

At the award ceremony in China, the Brazil women held up a sign saying “We need more support.”

And in his weekly radio address Monday, President Lula said, “I think we have to prepare other matches. In other words, these girls can’t play only every four years or play now and then,” he said.

“I think these girls, who are not as valued as they should be by the entities that deal with women’s sports in Brazil, need to raise their heads and know that we are at the beginning a very long process and that they are valued, and have made Brazil proud.”