Sissi: France 2019 will be a high-level tournament
*As the world of football counts down to the reveal of the FIFA Women’s World Cup France 2019 official emblem and slogan – in Paris on 19 September – we are interviewing major figures from the women’s game about the history, the present and the future of the Women’s World Cup..*
Player or coach? If you could choose, how would you participate at the FIFA Women’s World Cup France 2019™?
Sissi, who was one of the stars of the Brazilian national team in the 1990s, laughs and takes her time pondering the question. "It's hard to choose," she says, before eventually making up her mind. "I'd say as a player, definitely. But if I have the opportunity to be there, I'd also go as a fan."
The Brazilian, who now works as a coach in the USA, has high expectations of the global showdown in 2019: "It'll be a high-level tournament, with sold-out stadiums and a spectacular atmosphere."
It will also be very different to the editions she played at towards the end of the 1990s. "Nowadays a lot more women are playing the game, the level has changed, there are more tactics and there's a great deal more support and opportunities," she said.
Born in Esplanada, Brazil on 2 June 1969
Position: central midfielder
Two Women's World Cup appearances: Sweden 1995, USA 1999
Scored the first Golden Goal in the history of women's football
Two Women's Olympic Football Tournament appearances: Atlanta 1996, Sydney 2000
Won the adidas Golden Boot at USA 1999 That improvement was clearly evident at the recent UEFA Women's EURO 2017. "I was impressed by Austria and the Netherlands," Sissi said. "Alongside France, USA, Germany and England, they will without doubt be among the title favourites in 2019. And I'm sure Brazil will be ready too."
She is aware that there is still a long way to go and highlights two priorities for women's football to take the next step in its development: "To have the same rights and opportunities and to be able to play professionally anywhere in the world."
When it comes to analysing the situation in her homeland, where Sissi hopes to be national team coach one day, she believes the greatest obstacle to the game's development is the culture: "We're already shown that we're capable and that we have our own identity. All we can do is keep on fighting."
The Best Sissi, who recently turned 50, was among a panel of experts tasked with selecting the nominees for The Best FIFA Women's Player award. The growth of the game has increased competition and made choosing candidates all the more difficult: "It wasn't easy at all because there were so many really good players with different talents. A lot of good players were left out because there was only room for ten."