FC Barcelona

Giovana Queiroz reveals 'abusive behaviour' she suffered at Barcelona Femeni

Jamie Spencer
On loan at Levante, Giovana Queiroz has written an open letter to Joan Laporta
On loan at Levante, Giovana Queiroz has written an open letter to Joan Laporta / Angel Martinez/GettyImages

Giovana Queiroz has written an open letter to Barcelona president Joan Laporta to make known the ‘abusive behaviour’ she has suffered while at the club.

18-year-old Gio, who is currently on loan at Levante until the summer, joined Barcelona from Madrid CFF in 2020, having also spent time in the youth setup at Atletico Madrid when her family relocated from Florida to the Spanish capital.

She began her letter, posted on Twitter, describing ‘many months of anguish’, before declaring “…today I feel capable of denouncing the abusive behaviour I suffered within women's football at Barcelona .”

Sao Paulo-born Gio explained that her first few months at the club had been positive until she was called up by the Brazil national team.

“From that moment, I began to receive different treatment within the club,” she said.

“I first received indications that playing for Brazil would not be best for my future at the club. Despite the unpleasant and persistent harassment, I did not give much attention to the matter.

“Over time, the attacks began to be carried out though other pressure mechanisms inside and outside the club. They were cornering me in an abusive way so that I would give up playing for the Brazil national team.”

Gio described ‘arbitrary methods’ being used to harm her ‘professional life within the club’, alleging that she was even subjected to ‘illegal confinement’ by the head of club medical services.

The player explained that she was told it was after being identified as a close contact of a positive Covid-19 case, but suspected something was not right and directly contacted the Catalan Health Department for answers. She received clarification that the protocol in place at that time (February 2021) meant that she could not be considered a close contact.

Gio claimed she was ‘locked up illegally’, forced to miss training and the Copa de la Reina final.

Following the enforced quarantine, she said she had permission from FIFA join up with the Brazil national team in the United States – with ‘the full knowledge of the club’. The player produced negative PCR tests before travelling and during her time away, but said upon returning to Barcelona was accused of a serious breach in discipline and threatened with ‘serious consequences’.

Gio said she was accused of breaching quarantine protocol and travelling without permission from the club or the team captains. She described a male club director as being ‘aggressive’ and of using a ‘threatening tone’ towards her.

The player recalled having participated in campaigns for the Barça Foundation for protection of minors against abuse and at the same time felt ‘totally unprotected’ herself. From that moment on, she also said she was ‘exposed to humiliating and embarrassing situations’ inside the club.

Gio now accuses the director of wanting to destroy her reputation and undermine her self-esteem, acting with ‘impunity’ with the ‘protection of his position within FC Barcelona’. She described the ‘psychological abuse’ as getting worse over time, always born out of a power imbalance.

She explained that the behaviour was possible because of ‘cultural and structural concepts of a patriarchal society’. The player made clear that the club is not directly responsible for the abusive behaviour she was a victim of, but insisted it must be responsible for providing an environment and promoting a culture that prevents any form of abuse and protects people from it.

Gio called on the club to fulfil its role as an ‘institution’ and implement consistent and effective measures that would stop workplace harassment and psychological abuse towards women from happening to others in the future.

A Barcelona statement issued to journalist Amee Ruszkai was adamant that the club acted properly according to investigations by themselves and FIFA with regard to how Gio was treated specifically relating to her travel for international duty with Brazil.