As if women's soccer didn't have enough obstacles in Brazil ...

Brazil has advanced to the quarterfinals of both soccer competitions at the Rio Olympics. The men recovered from a pair of scoreless draws to pound Denmark, 4-0, with an impressive display of jogo bonito. On the women's side, Marta and company have been one of the hits of the Olympics, drawing huge crowds for their games in Brasilia and Manaus.

Women's soccer in Brazil is only now benefiting from the Olympic effect like it did in the United States as fans followed the USA on their road to four gold medals in five competitions: in 1996, 2004, 2008 and 2012, all four years during which, by coincidence, there was no women's pro league.

Few Brazilians follow women's soccer -- there is no national championship to speak of and the national team rarely plays between World Cup and Olympic cycles -- so many are only now getting their first look at Marta, Cristiane and Beatrizon national networks Globo and Record. They like what they see. They like the soccer the women play. And they like how they play with joy and are accessible before and after games -- in sharp contrast to the men, viewed as overpaid prima donas.

“My current utopia for Brazil," tweeted commentator Mauricio Santoro, "a country in which all of our institutions function as well as our women’s team.” Few will expect Brazilian institutions will change, beginning with Brazilian soccer, which is run by the Confederação Brasileira de Futebol, the notorious CBF.

Joao Havelange made his mark as president of the CBF during the rise of the great Brazil teams, World Cup champions in 1958, 1962 and 1970, before becoming FIFA president in 1974. Now 100, he lives in Rio, and his name graces the Estadio Olimpico Joao Havelange -- a strange honor for a man stripped of his title of honorary FIFA presidency for taking millions of dollars in the ISL scandals.

Also caught with his hand in the cookie jar: Havelange's former son-in-law Ricardo Teixeira, the CBF president for 14 years (1989-2012) until his resignation in 2012. Teixeira was only one of many South American federation heads indicted in the FIFA scandals on charges of widespread corruption.

Among the others were both of Teixeira's successors at the head of the CBF: Jose Maria Marin and Marco Polo del Nero. Marin was arrested in May 2015 by Swiss authorities and extradited to New York, where he is under house arrest while awaiting trial. Del Nero was also in Zurich in May 2015 when arrests were made on the eve of the FIFA Congress and he immediately flew home to Brazil. Del Nero was a wise man: He was indicted in December 2015 but remains free because Brazil doesn't extradite its own citizens to other nations.

Amazingly, del Nero is still the CBF president, and that created one of the awkward moments for FIFA at the Rio Olympics when its new president, Gianni Infantino, met with del Nero. Only now have FIFA ethics investigators confirmed they are formally investigating del Nero, who faces racketeering and money laundering charges in Federal court.

Women's soccer has enough problems in Brazil overcoming years of neglect and sexist stereotypes without having a national association that is corrupt and incompetent.

1 comment about "As if women's soccer didn't have enough obstacles in Brazil ...".
  1. Richard Brown, August 12, 2016 at 4:49 a.m.

    I think there not the only country where the women's game is not followed. The men's game is the game people follow.

    I live part of the year in Germany I can not say truthfully that the Germans in general follow their women's teams.

    The men take off from work to go to and watch games. They don't do that with the women.

    When I coached here in NYC club soccer. There was only the men's game and the boys game. If you had a women's team you could not find men who even wanted to coach the women's game.

    When my daughter played for her HS team. I started to do their skill work. They got so good at it that the boys team kuds wanted me to work with them.

    I started to enjoy the girls game when I saw a Long Island older team play a NYC team. Those girls could play and they were tough. They did not like a call made by A Officials from NYC. It was at my home field so I was watching it. When I am not playing I wear glasses. Their captain told me "Sir can you loan your glasses to the officials maybe he will call a better game wearing them" I laughed she laughed and I have been a women's fan ever since.

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