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Women’s Football Was Once a Circus Attraction in Brazil

Historian’s book investigates the origins of the sport

A well-known clown in Brazil in the 1920s and 1930s, Piolin had the idea of dressing actresses in shirts from famous football teams in São Paulo. It was a ruse to attract audiences to the Alcebíades Circus, which had just arrived in the area of Paissandu, in the central region of São Paulo, in 1926.

The success of the short tours, which lasted a weekend, was captured by the magazine A Cigarra and portrayed the spaces that women’s football, even if represented in an allegorical way, found to be visible in the first decades of the 20th century.

“From the 1920s onwards, the importance of these shows was the traveling of the circus. Anyone who had never seen a woman playing soccer would see it that way for the first time”, says sports historian Aira Bonfim.

In research carried out in publications at the time, she found 13 circuses that had as one of the attractions the dispute of the so-called “women’s football”.

Aira is the author of “Women’s Football in Brazil: among parties, circuses, suburbs, a social history (1915-1941)”.

The work investigates how women began to practice the sports modality until the moment when the federal government issued a ban that would only be revoked in 1979.

Source: Folha De S. Paulo