Former Brazilian women’s team players protesting federation

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A group of former Brazilian women’s national team players have signed an open letter criticizing their federation following the dismissal of coach Emily Lima.

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The group includes Formiga, who currently plays professionally for Paris Saint-Germain in France but retired from the national team last year after a record-breaking career that included every Olympic women’s tournament.

“We, the players, have invested years of our own lives and all of our energy to build this team and this sport to its strength today,” Friday’s letter said. “Yet we, and almost all other Brazilian women, are excluded from the leadership and decision-making for our own team and our own sport.”

Lima, the first woman ever to coach Brazil’s national team, was fired late last month after less than a year on the job. The team went 7-5-1 during her short tenure.

Following her dismissal, several veteran players, including Cristiane and Fran, stepped down from the team. They were among those who signed the open letter, along with Formiga.

“Over many years we have lived and watched in despair as Brazil’s women were neglected by CBF (the Brazilian soccer confederation). The events of the last week – where players’ voices were ignored, and some are now retiring in protest – is the result of a long history of lockout,” it read. “While some validly choose to remain inside the team and seek change from within, the fact that players have to make such a choice raises bigger issues. It has made us determined to speak out and demand change.”

The players called on CBF to include women in leadership and decision-making positions, and to help provide a path for players to pursue coaching jobs.

Cristiane spread the letter to social media with the hashtag (hash)hearhervoice.

“Today I’m posting a very important document, which I’ve signed together with many legends of the Brazil team. Please join many other former national team players from around the world by supporting & sharing our request for gender equality in Brazil football,” she said on Instagram.

The CBF did not respond to an email seeking comment.

Oswaldo Alvarez, known as Vadao, was hired to replace Lima. Vadao was the coach of the team before Lima replaced him, but he was dismissed after the Brazilians failed to reach the podium at the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympics.

Marta, perhaps the best known current Brazilian player, said a week ago that she did not plan to step down.

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“I will not stop playing for Brazil. Whenever they want me I will be willing to go,” the 31-year-old five-time FIFA World Player of the Year said about a week ago. “I am very sad, these athletes still have a lot to give. I hope the girls take it back so we can fight like we did all our lives, asking for improvements, pay rises and whatever is needed.”

Marta plays professionally in the United State for the Orlando Pride, which is set to play Saturday in the National Women’s Soccer League semifinals against the Portland Thorns.