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2016 Rio Olympics

CBF could end Brazil WNT’s residency program

Marta is consoled after Brazil's semifinal loss to Sweden. (Photo: USA Today)
Marta is consoled after Brazil's semifinal loss to Sweden. (Photo: USA Today)

Marta is consoled after Brazil’s semifinal loss to Sweden. (Photo: USA Today)

The Brazilian federation is reportedly considering ending the funding of a permanent residency program for its women’s national team following a fourth-place finish on home soil at the 2016 Olympics.

Brazilian outlet Globo Esporte reports that informal conversations revealed such thinking within the CBF, with more formal meetings on the subject to follow in the coming days.

The CBF announced in February 2015 that it would create a residency program for its women’s national team ahead of the 2015 World Cup and the 2016 Olympics, with the Rio 2016 Games always being the primary target for a gold medal (the original plan was for the residency to run through the end of the Olympics). But after a relatively strong group stage highlighted by a 5-1 thumping of Sweden, Brazil fell short of the podium, bowing out to the Swedes in penalty kicks in the semifinal and losing to Canada, 2-1 in the bronze-medal match.

Brazil’s women’s team has never won an Olympic gold medal nor a World Cup title, finishing second at the World Cup in 2007 and taking home silver medals in 2004 and 2008.

[LAULETTA: Takeaways from the Rio 2016 Olympic women’s soccer tournament]

A decision by the CBF to cut funding of a permanent residency program would not necessarily be insurmountable for the women’s national team, depending on how those resources were then reallocated (for example, investing in women’s club teams and bolstering its domestic league, or using the money for more frequent training camps with more friendlies in the down years ahead). There were strong indications over the prior to the CBF’s decision to go into residency that Brazil would partner with the NWSL to pay the club salaries of its national-team players, just as U.S. Soccer and Canada Soccer subsidizes player salaries.

But the CBF’s long track record of neglecting its women’s national team makes the news concerning, and the fourth-place finish at the Olympics – combined with a disappointing exit in the Round of 16 at last year’s World Cup – could be seen as justification to cut funding for the women’s team.

Captain and five-time FIFA World Player of the Year Marta pleaded into the camera of a Brazilian media outlet following her team’s defeat in the bronze-medal game, asking that Brazilian fans continue to support women’s soccer. The team received unprecedented support throughout the Olympics in what were rare home matches. Boisterous, sell-out crowds supported the women’s team, particularly as it thrilled early in the tournament and Brazil’s men’s team stumbled out of the gate.

“I ask the Brazilian people now, keep on supporting us, keep on supporting Brazilian women’s football,” she told reporters. “We need you so much.”

[LAULETTA: Five reasons the USWNT lost in the quarterfinals]

The scoring well dried up for Brazil’s women’s team, however, as the team went 413 minutes between goals in the tournament. Its saving grace was defense; Brazil didn’t give up a goal for 356 minutes, finally conceding again to Canada in the bronze-medal match.

Brazil’s men’s national team, led by Neymar, won its first Olympic gold medal on Saturday, defeating Germany in penalty kicks.

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