Brazil is internationally known as “the land of soccer”. However, not everybody is aware that for more than 40 years, women were prohibited by law from playing soccer in the country.
"Women will not be allowed to practice sports incompatible with the conditions of their nature, and for this purpose, the National Sports Council must download the necessary instructions to the sporting entities of the country," had been decreed in 1941 in the context of the Vargas Era dictatorship, so that women were prohibited by law from practising sports considered masculine - including soccer.
Even with the ban, women continued to play soccer and in 1983 had the legal endorsement back for the sport practice. However, this gap of more than 40 years in illegality has further boosted the barriers to equal visibility in men's and women's soccer and has consequences to date. As in many parts of the world, women's soccer in Brazil is not widely recognized, encouraged or respected.
Therefore, the Football Museum, located in the Pacaembu Stadium in São Paulo organized the temporary exhibition Counter-attack: Women of Football on the practice in Brazil before the context of the beginning of this year's FIFA Women's World Cup. The exhibition celebrates the achievements of women invisibilized in the history of national soccer and draws attention to the still needed visibility for gender equality on and off the field. Throughout the curatorship of the exhibition, the team of the Football Museum encountered difficulties in finding documents about women's soccer in Brazil. In contrast to men's soccer, there is still a lack of consistent documentation of matches and women's team championships in Brazil, as well as biographies of notable female players - an issue that also affects Wikipedia.
The year 2019 marks a significant advance for the visibility of women's soccer in Brazil: the World Cup matches of the women’s team will be broadcast on open television for the first time. Is the perfect occasion for many spectators and journalists to do research on Wikipedia on the players. With that in mind, sports journalist from Yahoo Esportes Olga Bagatini reached out to Wiki Movimento Brasil and in a partnership with Football Museum we organized an edit-a-thon focused on improving and creating entries women in Brazilian soccer. We created articles for the Brazilian players who were called to the World Cup in France and for players who marked the history of our national soccer. We also have listed other notable female players entries to be translated from other Wikipedias and debated the necessity of more entries on the trajectory of women’s soccer itself.
Throughout the #WikiFutFeminino event, we came across the lack of good references and realized that independent portals that cover women's soccer have more cured information on the theme than major sports portals - which further signals the need for more media attention for coverage of the modality. We also highlight the importance of partnering with museums, libraries and archives that have books, documents and other references on specific issues of edit-a-thons since they provide enormous base for good Wikipedia entries that have a direct effect on the quality of information on the internet.
We gathered for this edit-a-thon with another 20 journalists and volunteers at the library of the Reference Center of Brazilian Football at the Football Museum on June 1st, almost a week before the start of the FIFA Women’s World Cup. Until the publication of this newsletter, the 22 entries created and the 95 entries edited total more than 803 thousand views - and growing! But it’s not the end: while the gap on lusophone Wikipedia on women’s soccer is still an issue to be addressed, we intend to organize other editions of the edit-a-thon on the Football Museum to help tie the game.