Copa América: How Brazil succeeded in becoming the steamroller of women’s football on the continent

BUCARAMANGA, Colombia.- Brazil, the steamroller of women’s football on the continent, have once again been crowned champions of the Copa América, a definition that seems to repeat itself over and over again for the country where women’s football has been banned for almost four decades. After beating Colombia 1-0 in the land of coffee, the Brazilians lifted their eighth continental trophy -out of a total of nine editions of this contest-winning all matches this time, and the first for a female coach in this competition.

the Swedish Pia Sundhage, who speaks neither Spanish nor Portuguese but has adopted the country as his home, celebrated the double milestone. Brazil is something like Corcovado inaccessible for the rest of the teams. He showed it here in Colombia, with frustrating football for his rivals. In three touches he solves games and changes them for goals, he does not give spaces and hurts football and psychologically.

With 20 goals for and none against, Brazil took advantage of a penalty to claim victory in the game that cost them the most on their way to the title on these grounds. It happened in the 39th minute, when after a foul in the box by Manuela Vanegas, she had a penalty that Debinha – Verdeamarelha’s scorer with 5 goals – turned into an advantage. Colombia was the team that opposed it the most, carried by the support of the local public, who yesterday invested the Alfonso López stadium in Bucaramanga, as they had done in the matches that the team played in Cali and also in Armenia.

The locals have shown in this championship the progress they have made in four years, between the last Copa América and this one, and their power in attack, with the fantastic four who move on the offensive front: Linda Caicedo, the 17-year-old crack, Catalina Usme, the historic national team scorer, the powerful Mayra Ramírez and the skilful Leicy Santos. Indeed, the home team was the team that demanded the goalkeeper Lorena the most, in the only match where the 1 had to steal to cover the shots (the most dangerous attempts were at the feet of Caicedo). They won the undefeated palm almost without moving: one more example of the supremacy of the champions, who can tell, game by game, how long the rest of the teams held them without conceding a goal: it took 28 minutes to Argentina to score; to Uruguay, 32; in Venezuela, 22; in Peru, 1; in Paraguay, 16 and in Colombia, 39.

It's the end: Brazil celebrate their eighth Copa América conquest, of the nine editions held
It’s the end: Brazil celebrate their eighth Copa América conquest, of the nine editions heldFernando Vergara – AP

The champion is a country in which women’s football was banned by law between 1941 and 1979. Getulio Vargas, then president, had received a letter from a citizen, José Fuzeira, who made a recommendation from a medical point of view: that football was dangerous for women’s health. At that time, the message was repeated in different countries where the discipline was advancing. It was said that it could cause damage to the uterus and then it could cause disorders in the “reproductive function” of the body of footballers. Depression was also mentioned as one of the negative effects. Marta, the best player in history from there it was born seven years after the lifting of this ban, already with the democratic opening in this country. How many Martas did Brazil lose in all this time? impossible to count them. Those who investigate the history of the discipline in the region claim that if Brazil is today a power it is because of all the players who continued to kick even when the authorities could stop them in time of veto. The crack Marta was not in this edition due to an injury. Brazil is going through a generational change that seemed to generate some concerns, especially after a poor performance at the last Olympics, already with Pia Sundhage as DT (they finished in sixth place). Formiga, another of the stars who retired, was among those who entered the Copa América on the playing field: his heirs would eventually lift the trophy.

Brazil is an oasis in a continent where many players, including many of their rivals here, still don’t have professional contracts. In fact, Colombia, that of growth, started the tournament with a protest: the host country of the contest will not have a local league in the second half due to the organizational laziness of Dimayor, the entity that governs the discipline . .

The players raised their arms and fists in protest during the debut, but barely spoke to the press about the issue afterwards for fear of reprisals. Natalia Gaitán, Yoreli Rincón and Isabella Echeverri raised their voices at the time and were banned from the national team. Yesterday’s fall is a worthy defeat for the home side, in a championship where they finished second and won the ticket to the World Cup and the Olympics. The anger is that this conquered land will not be able to continue in a local championship in these last months of the year.

The same prizes were won by Brazil, which also, of course, won the Cup, in this case with the first champion coach of this tournament: the Swede Sundhage, former footballer and winner as a TD with the United States. United of two gold medals at the Games, who decided to leave Europe to work in South America. It was one of four techniques that set the record here for women in this role.

Yamila Rodríguez (right) finished as the tournament's top scorer with 6 goals
Yamila Rodríguez (right) finished as the tournament’s top scorer with 6 goalsJUAN BARRETO – AFP

In the conference following the win over Paraguay, Sundhage said: “Women’s football in the region should develop as it has in Europe. We see how many professional players there are, how they change clubs and have a professional life. If we can get something like that in South America, we could raise the bar. This Copa America shows it too.

The closing of the championship and the awards ceremony (Brazil, the champions, pocketed 1,500,000 dollars and Colombia, 500,000) left good news for Argentina: Yamila Rodríguez was the tournament’s top scorer, with her six screams throughout the contest.

Leave a Comment