On National Soccer Coach Day, let's get to know who are the top soccer coaches in Brazil and around the world and how they play
It's no news to anyone that the soccer environment is mostly male, and the numbers prove it. Although on the field the players gain space year after year, numbers from the World Cup, Brasileirão and other championships still reveal many difficulties for women in command positions.
At the National Soccer Coach Day, we turn our eyes to a reality that is changing and tends to change even more: in recent years, women coaches have gained space and are becoming synonymous of success with notable jobs and titles in all categories.
Women were never majority in the awards for the best women's soccer coaches. The award given by FIFA, since 2010, indicates the 10 best professionals and there have always been more male names on the list. Despite being a minority in the nominations, women have won six of the last nine editions of the award. The German Silvia Neid is the last awarded, three times best in the world, in 2010, 2013 and 2016.
Female coaches are a minority in the Brazilian Championship and also in the teams that qualified for the 2019 World Cup in France. But even in small numbers, women in charge are synonymous of success in women's soccer. Of the teams that are in the Top 10 of the FIFA rankings, half of them have a female coach.
Before the current coach, the Swedish Pia Sundhage, the Brazilian team had a single coach: Emily Lima, between 2016 and 2017. After three decades of male command, Emily spent 10 months with the team before being replaced by Vadão.
According to a survey carried out by the newspaper Folha de São Paulo, in 2019, only 8 of the 52 teams that competed in the national competition that year, 16 in the A series, equivalent to the elite of the modality, and 36 in the B series, corresponding to the second division, had a women as coaches, that is, a total of 15.4%.
The number was slightly higher than the previous season, when 41 teams had participated in the tournament since the preliminary round. At the time, six women were in the role in the first round, about 14.3%, according to the summary of the CBF (Brazilian Football Confederation).
However, the trend is for the number of women coaches to increase, due to the requirement by CBF and Conmebol (South American Football Confederation) for clubs to create women's teams. The Profut (Management and Accountability Modernization Program) has been offering more support to the modality.
In the 2020 Brazilian Championship, in the A series, of the 10 elite clubs, two were managed by women.
Tatiele Silveira, at Ferroviária, at the time the national champion, and Patrícia Gusmão, at Grêmio. During the previous year, the scenario was no different, with two coaches: Emily Lima (Santos) and the same Tatiele on the Araraquara team.
In order to change this reality and help to increasingly include women in the role of coaches, CBF launched, in 2020, the Women's Soccer School, promoting the course Characteristics of Training in Women's Soccer in Brazil.
With online classes, the activity had 130 people enrolled in its first class and, among the students, names like Tamires and Érika, athletes from Corinthians, and Daniela Alves, former player of the Brazilian team and current coach of the Corinthians' under-17 team.
The initiative seeks to make soccer more equal, to include everyone and to help develop the sport for women as well. The introduction to the universe of management and training are among the objectives of the Women's Football School, and CBF understands that the place will also serve as a way to execute projects for the sport within the CBF Academy, with courses, debates, workshops and exclusive study centers.
The entity wants the development of professionals who seek to enter women's football and, with that, to promote a change in reality according to the Confederation. The new process is more accessible to those who do not have enough financial resources to start the new path. Among the teachers of this first course, there is the coach of the Brazilian team, Pia Sundhage.
CBF Academy Director Marco Dalpozzo highlights the importance of the Swedish coach's participation. "Pia deeply believes in this professionalization and in having quality in the field. She is very dedicated and is our great partner. She and other assistants who work with us are extremely motivated and give us content to develop the classes and the whole pedagogical part. We have the best teachers and experts focused on the female area. We have the privilege of putting together the best ones available to build our programs."
The improvement of women to follow a career in soccer is defended by striker Marta, elected six times the best player in the world.
"I feel that coaches from other countries are more interested in studying, in improving themselves. There are courses for men and women in Brazil, but we still see that few people are taking them. We want other women to be interested in being part of it. You can't be a coach just because you were a former athlete. You need to take the course, have the license."
The international environment is not the same. At the 2019 World Cup, only 9 of the 24 teams were coached by women. Despite this, five of them reached the round with 16 teams. Among the four semi-finalist teams, three were led by women: the two finalists, Netherlands and the United States, as well as France. The Brazilian team hired a woman, Sweden's Pia Sundhage, after the tournament.
In the FIFA Award for the best women's soccer coach in the world, six women and three men have already been in the Top 3 since 2016, the year in which the awards began. The success of women's teams around the world reflects the professionalization of women's soccer in these countries. Where the sport is more consolidated and professionalized, there is more space for female coaches.
The coach of the Brazilian Women's Team, the Swedish Pia Sundhage, grew up in a time when it was not accepted by society that a woman had the desire to become a soccer player. Therefore, she had to pretend to be a boy to play in a championship as a child. At the age of 17, Pia began her career as a professional player and played as a striker in Swedish soccer, playing 144 games and scoring 71 goals for the Sweden national team. In 1996, she ended her career as a player after playing in the first edition of the Olympic Games in the history of women's soccer.
As a coach, Pia has two Olympic gold medals in charge of the United States National Team (2008, Beijing and 2012, London) and a silver medal ahead of the Sweden National Team at the Rio 2016 Olympics. In addition, she was named the best female soccer coach by FIFA in 2012.
In July 2019, she was invited to take over the Brazilian national team after the team was eliminated at the World Cup, held in France. The coach is only the second woman to command Brazil's women's team, and the first foreigner to hold the position. Her main goal is to win the unprecedented Olympic gold for the country.
In 2019, the women's team was in 10th place in the FIFA world rankings. Two years later, the team climbed three positions, reaching the 7th place in the ranking. In the same ranking, the United States team is 1st and the Sweden team is 5th, and both were under the command of Pia Sundhage. Until June 2021, the coach had completed 18 games in front of the Brazilian team, with 11 victories, 5 draws and only 2 defeats.
Financial independence is one of the main ways of empowering women and, therefore, promoting equal access to the labor market is essential. Neoenergia is part of the Spanish group Iberdrola and, together, the companies develop a project that promotes the participation of women in sports. Currently, more than 330 thousand athletes are sponsored around the world.
“We believe in equality in all fields and we share with these players the same values such as effort, overcoming struggles, professionalism and teamwork. These athletes are the mirror into which many men and women look, they are examples for many others who see in sport a window of opportunity for social change. In addition to being a fundamental right, equality is also one of the essential foundations for building a more prosperous world for all.", said the Communications superintendent of Neoenergia, Marcus de Barros Pinto.
In 2021, Neoenergia became the first company in the country to exclusively support the Brazilian National Team and the national club competition. With a contract valid for the next four years, the sponsor's objective has a lot of synergy with what women's sport has wanted for a few years now: to expand women's participation in the social and professional context, together with gender equity and offering better opportunities for athletes.