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Female soccer player disguised as a man takes on, and beats, male team

TV program sets up stunt to show that technique is more important than brute strength

Brenda disguised as Dani Pérez.
Brenda disguised as Dani Pérez.

The pre-match warm-up involved seven hours of makeup: facial prosthesis, a new hairstyle, and some padding to camouflage the shape of her body. And then Brenda Pérez, a 21-year-old journalism student who has played for Atlético Madrid and Espanyol’s women’s sides, became Dani Pérez. Spanish pop-science TV show El Hormiguero (The Anthill) wanted to see what would happen when a woman disguised as a man took on her male counterparts in a soccer match.

After scoring a goal, and just before she was about to take a penalty, Brenda removed her disguise…

“Women’s soccer is totally ignored, while men’s soccer is constantly in the media. We wanted to make a point with this video,” says Jordi Moltó, a scriptwriter on El Hormiguero. “Some people still insist that women are not strong enough to compete with men, but the right technique can put them on an equal footing,” he says.

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The full video of the stunt (English subtitles).

The revelation wasn’t a surprise to everybody on the pitch, admitted Brenda when she appeared on the show, adding that some players were puzzled by her appearance. “I heard a couple of guys tell their teammates that my beard was coming off.” Others can be heard saying to each other: “I told you she had a girl’s face.”

Only the referee and the coach of the side Brenda was playing for knew about the stunt. The makeup was handled by the same team that disguised Danny León, one of Spain’s best skaters, into an octogenarian skateboarder, who then took to the streets followed by a hidden camera.

“She looked like a young man of say, 20 years old. We were a bit worried about using a player that nobody on the side knew, but as this is the beginning of the season, it’s not unusual for new players to be tried out,” says Moltó.

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The show’s organizers were also careful to pick a low-level match to test Brenda’s skills. “Against a really good side her chances of touching the ball were not good. The important thing here is to make the point that women can provide soccer that is just as entertaining as men’s, and that appearances can be deceptive,” adds Moltó.

The whole thing took around six weeks to organize, says Moltó, who accompanied Brenda to a match to watch the side she would be up against. “We filmed it on a Wednesday night a couple of weeks ago,” he explains, adding that after the match, all the players were asked to keep the experiment to themselves. “If this had got on to the social networks, the secret would have been out in minutes,” he says.

The video ends with Brenda Pérez talking to the camera and repeating her message that soccer is not just a man’s game. The Spanish Football League last month announced it was to spend at least €1 million on women’s soccer infrastructure.