Brazil has long been the soccer mecca of the world, producing some of the most creative, entertaining, and amazing international players. But the state of women’s soccer in Brazil is a mess. A recent article on TheAtlantic outlined the disparity between two of Brazil’s most dominant players, Neymar and Marta, based entirely on gender. Marta has been established as the FIFA World Player of the Year for a record five times in a row, and Neymar has recently come on the scene as one of the best male players. Yet while Neymar has his pick of exorbitant salaries from the best clubs around the world, Marta — whose nickname is “Pele in a skirt” — can’t find a team to support her.
How can we change this? Well, if Marco Aurelio Cunha, the women’s coordinator of the Confederation of Brazilian Football, is any authority, Marta could try sexing herself up a bit. In a machismo-laden interview, Cunha shed some light on the sad view of women’s soccer in Brazil and succeeded only in perpetuating sexist stereotypes about female athletes (and ignoring trends in men’s and women’s soccer alike). “Now the women are getting more beautiful, putting on make-up,” he said. “We used to dress the girls as boys. So the team lacked a spirit of elegance, femininity. Now the shorts are a bit shorter, the hairstyles are more done up. It’s not a woman dressed as a man.”