During the past month, another edition of the Brazilian women's championship came to an end. The champion, Santos, win the final’ second leg against rivals Corinthians, by the score of 1-0, after winning the first match at home by 2-0. The end of the tournament is a mark for Brazilian football lovers the much needed evaluation of the women’s game in the country.
Therefore, here are a series of necessary changes in order for the sport to grow and flourish in Brazil.
In this year's edition, there was a redesign in the structure of the championship: While in 2016, 20 teams competed in the tournament, this year the number was reduced to 16 teams. Bizarrely, the Brazilian Football Confederation, to define the participants of each division, not only by the ranking of women's clubs, but also by the ranking of the men's clubs.
This turned out to be very unfair, since teams like Sport, which did not compete at the women's championship in 2016, ended up in the first division of the championship, due to their participation in the first division at the men's Brasileirao, and other teams, such as Portuguesa, ended up playing at the 2nd division, despite having participated in the women first division in 2016.
Another change was the league’ structure. In 2016, the 20 clubs were divided into four groups of five, playing only one match against each team in their group, with two teams in each group were qualifyied for the knockout.
Now with 16 clubs, the teams were divided into two groups, with home and away matches against their group rivals, when the top four in each group qualified for the knockout stage, and the last of each group is relegated.
The creation of a new division is very interesting, as it helps to further expand women's football in the country, however, there is still a series of changes that must occur in order for the country to be able to further develop the scene.
The first of these changes is to increase cash prizes. This year’s title prize was only one 120,000 reais. To give you an idea, the 3rd largest payroll in the tournament, fromIranduba , was 60,000 reais a month, without counting the technical commission. The team, which was eliminated in the semifinals, received only 30,000 reais in prize money: a value that does not pay a month' salaries. By raising cash prizes, the players' salaries are likely to be improved. That would be great, as it would spur even more women to try their careers in the sport, since, nowadays, wages are very low in most teams.
Another necessary change is increasing the tournament’s marketing. There were a lot of good audiences preforms in the tournament. Iranduba team placed 25,000 people in the semi-final against Santos, or when 15,000 spectators in Vila Belmiro in the final first leg, the biggest public of the year at this stadium. Even so, greater investment in marketing is needed to reach even larger audiences. One suggestion to raise even more audiences is to put the women's games before the men's game, as a double show. For example, if Corinthians men's team play at four o'clock in the afternoon, the women's team play at one in the afternoon. Thus, a kind of promotion could be made, in which the value of a game is paid to see two. This would greatly increase the public, especially in teams that also have good men's football teams with a large fansbase.
Another way to attract more fans, is to broadcast more games on television. This year, the tournament lost the only open channel that was broadcasting it. Thus, only the Sportv channel, which is paid, transmitted matches of the competition and, nevertheless, only a few. If at least one open television channel will transmit matches, the audience of women in Brazil football will definitely grow.
The championship's format deserves even more changes. The schedule of women's football matches in the country is still very small. In order to win the title, Santos' team played only 20 matches, slightly more than half the number of one-team games in the men's championship. To extend the calendar, the 16-team championship should be played with all teams playing against all, at home and away, in a total of 30 matchdays a season. A Brazilian Cup tournament must be installed. It will offer more games, more income, more investments into the scene.
A good change that may happen in 2 years will happen thanks to Conmebol, which has determined that every team participating in the Copa Libertadores should have a women's football team. Otherwise, the team will not be able to compete in the largest club competition in America. Of the eight Brazilian teams that compete in this year's competition, only three of them have women's football teams. With this mandatory, large clubs will have to invest in the sport to continue to compete in the competition. Thus, the sport will become increasingly popular.
Despite all the shifts needed, this year brought some major improvements in the competition. The creation of a second division allows many states to have a women's football team that plays a national championship. In addition, there was a slight improvement in the dispute formula. However, this is not enough: if we accept that things continue this way, the disparity between men's and women's football will continue to be colossal.
No longer can thousands of girls give up the dream of being a player because the sport does not have attention. The changes must take place, from the schools, which should encourage the practice and play of football, in amateur and professional levels.
Women football is growing worldwide and there’s no reason that biggest football nation on earth won’t have a proper stage for it.