Jorge Knijnik


Football is not only one of the major cultural manifestations of Brazilian society; it is also the pinnacle of the country’s hegemonic masculinity, a bastion into which women should not be allowed. Despite some progress and several international sporting successes achieved over the last few decades, Brazilian female footballers still endure extreme gender prejudice when playing football in Brazil. Gender discrimination blocks their access to minimal conditions of football training and playing at recreational and competitive levels. This paper aims to discuss gender issues that pervade Brazilian football. The paper applies a multifaceted theoretical background, combining a psychoanalytical view of gender issues with a sociological framework, to data collected through an ethnographic approach employing participant observation and interviews. The research uncovers acts of gender resistance and compliance by Brazilian female football players. Some women use football to resist the hegemonic gender order in the sport; they love the nation’s cultural icon and they will fight for their right to play. Others argue for the importance of complying with a normative femininity in order to be acceptable to sport managers, agents, the press and the general public. Still others refuse a normative femininity and fight for the ‘naturalness’ of women in football. In the face of the hurdles faced by Brazilian women who want to enjoy the major sport in the country, this paper claims that only urgent federal legislation will lead women to gender equality in Brazilian football.

Author Biography

Jorge Knijnik, University of Western Sydney, School of Education and Institute for Culture and Society