On 8 March, Cruzeiro – one of Brazilian football's traditional 'big 12' – took to the field for a cup match against Murici-AL wearing a special kit. The jerseys were royal blue, as ever, but did not carry the names of the players. Instead, to mark International Women's Day, the squad numbers spelt out statistics highlighting the challenges faced by women in Brazil.
"Salaries 30% lower," read the shirt belonging to midfielder Thiago Neves. Others were even more shocking: "A rape every 11 minutes"; "A woman killed every 2 hours". The club earnt plentiful praise, both at home and abroad, for drawing attention to such a worthy cause. In a country as patriarchal as Brazil, such gestures make waves.
Other clubs essayed their own initiatives, but if the sport was hoping to present a united front on the issue of women's rights, the waters would soon be muddied in spectacularly galling fashion. Just two days later, second-division Boa Esporte Clube – Minas Gerais neighbours of Cruzeiro –announced the signing of Bruno Fernandes de Souza, a player who, four years prior, had been convicted of the brutal murder of the mother of his child.
You can read my piece on Bruno's controversial return to football in the latest issue of When Saturday Comes magazine – available at newsagents and to order/read online.