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Gender and Football in Brazil: The Impact of the Paulistana Over a Generation of Brazilian Women Players

Jorge Knijnik (Western Sydney University, Australia)

Women’s Football in a Global, Professional Era

ISBN: 978-1-80071-053-5, eISBN: 978-1-80071-052-8

Publication date: 9 March 2023


Brazilian sportswomen have arrived in the twenty-first century burdened with a heavy inheritance, which has been called the gendered twentieth century sporting legacy. In relation to football, this heritage includes not only gender and sexuality discrimination but all multifaceted obstacles to playing the sport, such as no access to facilities, equipment and funding. This chapter analyses the careers of three Brazilian women who played in a major tournament organised by the São Paulo Football Federation (FPF), the Paulistana, where orthodox-gendered practices and concepts prevailed to control the bodies of the players. This analysis considers aspects of socialisation and sporting elements in the lives of the participants, derived from informal conversations as well as structured interviews which were inductively framed. As such, the data were analysed by understanding the social division of the professional and corporal practices in society and the representations that permeate Brazilian society regarding the role of women in that society at that time, in the late 1990s. The chapter uses the micro-context of these players' biographies to show how women's football is embedded in macro-contexts of oppressive gender structures in Brazil and South America. The findings show that whilst conceived to be a tournament to promote women's football in Brazil, the 2001 championship was an attack against women's footballers and their human rights. The orthodox rigid gendered rules, which prevented many women players participation, transformed the tournament into a ‘circus’ that received criticism across the whole country, including in the National Parliament.



Knijnik, J. (2023), "Gender and Football in Brazil: The Impact of the Paulistana Over a Generation of Brazilian Women Players", Culvin, A. and Bowes, A. (Ed.) Women’s Football in a Global, Professional Era (Emerald Studies in Sport and Gender), Emerald Publishing Limited, Leeds, pp. 101-114.



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