It was such a beautiful sunny morning in Porto Alegre that it seemed that even the weather was playing in its favor. It was not possible that the fans would miss the chance to enjoy this Sunday in the best way, with a family football game first thing in the morning, I thought.
Sometimes, we get carried away by the doubt that for so long boycotted women’s football in Brazil and in the world. Nobody wants to see it, it’s boring, nobody cares. The truth is, they didn’t want us to see the story – and they did everything they could to prevent it from being written.
“35 years ago I imagined this in my head, and no one believed me”, that’s what Duda Luizelli, a former player with a winning history at Internacional in the 1980s, told me. Last Sunday, she was present at Beira-Rio with with another 36,330 people, who set the attendance record for a match between women’s soccer clubs in Brazil.
The initial expectation released by Inter when the day and time of the first match of the final in Porto Alegre were confirmed was 12 thousand fans. The club had registered over 7,000 in the semi-final and projected to nearly double that number in the final. The result was five times the old stadium record for women on the field and only surprised those who still insisted on not believing in their potential.
There are no longer any arguments to repeat clichés and insist on excuses given by lazy leaders, who prefer to ignore facts and cling to old prejudices. All over the world, stadiums are filling up for women’s, club and national football matches. Here, it took us a while to understand that it would be possible to profit from them – as has been shown by Corinthians, which has already collected almost R$ 2 million at the box office with the women’s team alone.
Beira-Rio, with 36,000 people, was not an isolated case. Last week, Arena da Baixada registered more than 28,000 people to see the Serie A2 final with Gurias do Furacão against Ceará. Last Saturday, more than 7,000 were at Presidente Vargas to celebrate the Ceará team’s title in the return game. These are free tickets in these cases (or paid for with food donations), but it is the first step to arouse the fans’ interest in following the women’s team.
In the case of Corinthians, which started this work a long time ago, today there is an admission charge. At the beginning of the year, almost 20 thousand people attended the Neo Química Arena for the decision of the women’s Supercup between Corinthians and Grêmio. Next Saturday’s final has a chance to set a new sales record – the crowd has already launched the “Invasão por Elas” campaign and hopes to reach 40,000 fans in Itaquera.
These records will soon no longer be news because they will be frequent. Playing with empty stadiums, especially for clubs with big fans, will be an option for those who don’t want to work to one day profit from women’s football (Corinthians could be the first club with a surplus in the sport this year, precisely because of the box office).
What happened Sunday in Beira-Rio sends the message to those with decision-making power: believe in women. The CBF can do this by promoting a better championship, with more dignified awards, with a professional structure. The clubs, investing, creating a communication strategy to engage the fans. The TVs, promoting broadcasts and placing the women’s games at times that allow the public to go to the stadiums (not at 5:30 pm on a working day).
Women’s football does not disappoint those who believe in it. Lucky for me and for so many women who have always believed. It’s exciting to see history unfolding before our eyes – even more so with the certainty that this is just the beginning.