Google’s New Online Museum Will Honor Women Who Defied Female Soccer Bans Worldwide

The search giant is crowdsourcing material for the 'Offside Museum' exhibit

The museum will begin with a picture of Léa Campos, the first female professional soccer referee, arrested 15 times during Brazil's ban on women playing soccer. Google

For much of the 20th century, countries like the United Kingdom, Germany, France and Brazil had various rules in place that effectively banned women from playing soccer over sexist myths about the sport’s effect on fertility and “masculinization.”

Google’s Arts & Culture arm is seeking to spotlight the many women who defied these bans with a new interactive museum website. Timed to coincide with the FIFA Women’s World Cup, the “Offside Museum” exhibit’s organizers will today start soliciting media and firsthand accounts from female soccer players who endured this period, which lasted roughly from the 1920s to the late 1970s. Once the photos and information have been collected and curated, they’ll go public on the Google Arts & Culture platform June 24.

“When Google tried to compile a history of women’s soccer, the history just didn’t exist,” Google wrote in a statement about the project. “So, Google is calling on the public to help fill in the gaps of the historical periods of women’s soccer that are missing.”

The search giant is kicking off what it calls “the world’s largest crowdsourced search for the undocumented history of women’s soccer” with a video featuring Léa Campos, the world’s first female professional soccer referee, who was supposedly arrested a whopping 15 times during Brazil’s soccer prohibition.

Google will spread the word about the museum in partnership with agency AKQA’s Brazil office with a campaign across out-of-home media, digital and social channels.

While the specifics of the soccer bans varied from country to country, most prohibited women from playing in facilities that accommodated spectators and often included penalties for clubs that let women even train on their grounds. Most of the European bans were enforced by the respective professional leagues of each country following a time during World War I in which female competition enjoyed relative popularity. The Brazilian government, meanwhile, went so far as to make it completely illegal for women to play soccer from 1941 to 1979.

Founded in 2011, Google’s Arts & Culture program seeks to make artwork and other culturally significant artifacts available to the public online through partnerships with several international museums. Some of its previous endeavors have included virtual-reality museum tours and a portrait-matching facial recognition app.

Client: Google
Agency: AKQA
Production Company: Iconoclast
Director: Rafaela Carvalho
Music: Antfood
Photographer: Livia Wu

@patrickkulp Patrick Kulp is an emerging tech reporter at Adweek.