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Women’s Club Football in Brazil and Colombia

A Critical Analysis of Players, Media and Institutions



Faculty of Arts, University of Bristol



Área de concentração

Doctor of Philosophy





This thesis foregrounds the everyday experiences and perspectives of women footballers in Brazil and Colombia across three contrasting settings. Using a mixed methodological approach it places the discourse and representations of the media and football governing bodies in dialogue with the perspective of players. The thesis begins by analysing a wide-ranging survey which highlights commonalities and differences experienced by players across the South American continent. Shaped by responses to the first chapter, the following chapter shows how the agency of players influences mass media output. Similarly, the third chapter on football governing bodies argues that traditional institutional analysis does not give sufficient weight to outside influences and societal changes more generally. Based on a nine-month ethnography during which I visited three clubs for a period of three months each, this thesis problematises many of the gendered assumptions propagated by the media and football governing bodies going on to make a series of recommendations on how to consolidate the clear growth potential of the women’s game in the region. The clubs chosen for ethnography are contrasting examples which present distinct symbolic challenges to the status-quo. In Brazil a contrast is made between Iranduba, a club where the women’s team commands two-thirds of the budget, and Santos FC, where the growth of women’s football is significantly encumbered by what I call banal patriarchy – everyday representations which normalise male hegemony within the club. A middle ground between the polar opposite Brazilian cases is found in the third ethnographic chapter based in Neiva, Colombia, where the experiences of Atlético Huila Women are investigated. The Huila chapter probes claims made about the “professionalisation” of the newly-formed women’s league’ and also considers the intersectional barriers which Colombian women players face.


Abstract, 1
Acknowledgements, 2
Author’s Declaration, 5
List of Tables and Illustrations, 7
Glossary of Terms, 8

Introduction, 9

Methodology, 35

Chapter 1 – Surveying the Field from the Players’ Perspective, 57

Chapter 2 – Mis-representing the agenda: The Case of Yoreli Rincón at the Women’s Copa Libertadores 2018, 86

Chapter 3 – Football Institutions, 118

Chapter 4 –The Team from the Heart of the Amazon, 146

Chapter 5 –Mermaids in the Land of the King, 184

Chapter 6 – The Champions of South America, 218

Thesis Conclusion, 256

Policy Recommendations, 261
Semi Structured Interview List, 263
References, 265


BIRAM, Mark Daniel. Women’s Club Football in Brazil and Colombia: A Critical Analysis of Players, Media and Institutions. 2021. 293 f. Tese (Doctor of Philosophy) - Faculty of Arts, University of Bristol, Bristol, 2021.