Women´s Football in Latin America

The female sport has moved up from the shadow to a first division activity in the region.

Daniuska Rodríguez (dark red) playing against Peru (white) at the Women´s Copa America in Ecuador 2014.

We need to talk about the organization that oversees all international football matters, the South American Football Confederation (or Conmebol in Spanish). They divide the players into categories, for both male and female players, like U-17, U-20, and the Copa Libertadores that is just for private clubs.

The Copa Libertadores is the most important competition regarding private clubs in South America. The male version of this event was founded in 1959 and the female in 2009. Only 10 teams can participate, one for each country within the Conmebol. This year, the event will be heled in Uruguay and clubs like San Lorenzo de Almagro (Argentina), Sport Colonial (Paraguay), and Municipalidad San Borja (Peru), among others, will be fighting for the cup.

A living proof of how well the female football has improved, and specially the Venezuelan team, is the talented Daniuska Rodríguez. With only 18 years of age, this Latin American player was nominated for the Puskás 2016 price for Best Goal of the Year. She was nominated due to her majestic goal against Colombia in the final group stage at Women’s U-17 Sudamericano Championship.

The votes were not enough to give the award to Rodríguez but she is the first woman to be ever nominated. Thanks to that special performance, Venezuela won said tournament in 2016 reaffirming the great moment that the region is still currently enjoying.

Argentina, Brazil, and Uruguay are the only three Latin American countries that have had women´s football championships for more than 20 years. The Argentinean first division was founded in 1991 until it was considered the Women´s Football Championship. The Uruguayan women´s first division was created in 1997 and currently has 15 clubs participating.

In Brazil, it´s another story. Despite being the second oldest country with a female football championship, this sport has less support from the Brazilian people than the male version of it. The largest country in South America has excellent women’s football players like Marta that has won the FIFA World Player of the Year five consecutive times between 2006 and 2010.

Other two countries that have embraced women´s football are Ecuador and Chile. The first has had its championship since 2013 and the second since 2008.

Mexico and Colombia are relatively new to women´s football league; they made the decision to implement a female tournament last year. Both national teams classified to the 2015 FIFA Women’s World Cup in Canada. Mexico did not rank and Colombia was defeated by United States.

Last but not least, women´s football has also been growing in Central America and the Caribbean. El Salvador, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, and Panama have small semiprofessional championships that encourage young athletes to keep on playing. Belize is the only country that does not have a championship but it does have a national female team. In the Caribbean, there is the Caribbean Football Union that congregates 31 national associations and celebrate U-17 and U-20 tournaments.

LatinAmerican Post | Mariana Sandoval
Copy edited by Susana Cicchetto

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