In the midst of the growing debate about gender equality, sexism and women’s empowerment around the world, the FIFA Women’s World Cup saw its coverage and publicity rise in 2019. The sporting event, commonly seen as ‘inferior’ to the male version, entered the challenge for wider appreciation and had extensive coverage in the media, with Brazil’s team games broadcasted by TV Globo for the first time.
With demands from female audiences for the event to have the same prestige as the men’s tournament and a consequent increase in coverage, brands jumped on the bandwagon and raised gender discussions in their own commercials. Brazilian players led ads criticising the lack of sponsorship and female representation in advertisements – during the 2018 Men’s World Cup, players monopolized the commercials.
For this reason, Guaraná Antártica, much criticised for not supporting the women’s modality, since it is the official sponsor of the Brazilian team, did a mea culpa and launched the campaign “É Coisa Nossa” (“It’s Our Thing”, in English), calling other brands to give visibility to women’s football in an attempt at promoting gender equality at sporting events.
On the other side of the field, the Women’s World Cup protagonists – the players – also took advantage of the increased attention to support and shine the spotlight on important causes such as gender pay gap.
Iconic Brazilian player Marta celebrated goals scored in matches against Australia and Italy by pointing to her football boots coloured blue and pink, without any sports brand logo. The footwear is a symbol of the Go Equal action, created by UN Women, of which the number 10 acts as a global ambassador, which seeks to promote pay equity.
In the world of football, female players receive less payment in sponsorships than the brands pay to male team players. Adidas, FIFA’s official sponsor, took a concrete step in the gender pay gap and decided to match the prize offered to the women’s tournament to the value given to the men’s teams.
The 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup was another catalyst for gender representation and equality and achieved small victories that should not continue should not be confined to a once in every four years sporting event. In the streets, the bars decorated during the games of Brazil and companies that allowed leave from work just as occurs during the men’s games show the strength and beginning of change.