Female football fans find being accepted by men hard in Brazil

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Sao Paulo, March 9 (IANS) Several female Brazilian soccer fans have created a project known as “Dibradoras” (Dribblers) in an effort to reduce male chauvinism in sports.

Roberta Nina Cardoso, 35, is a Sao Paulo team fan and a regular at the local stadium, where she and three friends experienced an unsavoury incident a while back, reports Efe.

While looking for a spot in the stadium parking lot, around 30 uniformed football hooligans approached them, sticking their hands in the car windows, touching their hair and calling them “cute,” “wonderful” and “fine”.

“Women are not seen as a gender that understands soccer, they don’t understand tactics,” Nina said. “They don’t know what ‘offside’ means. They are here only to see the players. That is how we are pigeonholed.”

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Renata Mendonca, 28, is also a Sao Paulo fan and goes to the stadium two or three times a month.

Even though she said that recently it has become “a little less tortuous,” she added that wearing shorts still gets her catcalls.

Their passion for soccer later brought Nina and Renata together, and — along with Nayara Perone and Angelica Souza — they decided to launch the “Dibradoras” project.

“We want to give women a voice and a place in the sport and erase the image of the woman who knows nothing about soccer,” Nina told Efe.

Gender equality in football is still a long way off in the country of 200 million — with women accounting for more than half the population — and where 75 per cent are self-proclaimed fans, according to a survey by the Parana Pesquisas Institute, published in late 2016.

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Difficulties in finding a suitable jersey also make it hard for women to join the ranks of fandom, as some jerseys made for women have a bizarre cleavage or only come in pink.

“I don’t want a pink jersey, I want the one my team wears,” Renata said.

–IANS

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