The often overlooked backbone, the rock, of some of Brazil's most famous football players, are gaining slightly more exposure during the 2018 FIFA World Cup. Six of the national team players who took to the pitch against Serbia were raised in a single parent household led by mothers.
Those players included Miranda, Thiago Silva, Marcelo, Casemiro, Paulinho and Gabriel Jesus.
Vera Lucia, a former maid, is the mother of Brazilian forward Gabriel Jesus. She raised him and his three brothers without a husband or conjugal partner. She, along with Neymar and Fernandinho's mother, has appeared on several chat shows and toured Russia during the Cup for a six-part Brazilian TV series called As Matrioskas, The Russian Dolls.
A resident of historically excluded communities and a single mother, Lucia's background resonates with many other Brazilian women.
“None of them (Brazil's national team players) are from the middle class,” said Mariluce Souza who operates the Favela Art project in one of Rio de Janeiro's most economically poor neighborhoods, Complexo do Alemao.
“Gabriel Jesus is from a favela and was raised by his mother,” says Rita de Cassia, who was watching the match at the Women's Bar, also in the favela conglomeration.
“(The mothers) are much more universally Brazilian women. There is a racial contrast that is very important. There is a class contrast that is very important,” said Debora Diniz, a professor of anthropology at the University of Brasilia.
She emphasized that the lives of these single, poor mothers appeals more to women throughout Brazil, compared to the ritzy lifestyle enjoyed by the wives and girlfriends, mostly lighter-skinned, of some players on the team.
Government figures indicate that 40 percent of Brazilian households, even if a conjugal partner is present, are led by women. It's a 23 percent increase from two decades ago, according to The Guardian.