Some female leagues in Latin America have advanced in sports development, which could serve as an example for other countries in the region. However, they still have a lot of work ahead
The female leagues of Brazil, Venezuela, Colombia, and Mexico are the most developed in Latin America, with the last two being the most advanced along the way. It should be noted that the fact of being those of greater sports development does not imply that they have reached the optimum level in all their schemes or that they are economically sustainable. At the level of salaries, infrastructure, sponsorships, and transmission, they are still far from resembling their male counterparts. On the other hand, the leagues of Argentina, Uruguay, Peru, and Chile still have a lot of work ahead. Here you will find some of the main challenges of the Latin American female leagues:
Leer en español: Latinoamérica: Este es el panorama de las ligas femeninas de fútbol
In Latin America, the wage gap is big. The Chicago Tribune puts as an example the American Alex Morgan, the highest paid female player in the world who received in France a salary of 650,000 dollars per year, or the 600,000 dollars of the Brazilian Marta Vieira Da Silva, both players of the Orlando Pride. Salaries in Latin America are low compared to those described. There are even countries like Argentina where the players do not receive any salary, according to the newspaper La Izquierda. The player Ana Paola Lopez told ESPN: "Men earn so well that it could be the only thing they do in their lives, soccer shows the inequity in wages."
The problem with salaries is that they go beyond an elevation as their increase must be accompanied by the sustainability of the leagues; that is, to say that they operate with good economic numbers in order to be able to improve salaries naturally. After the first tournament of the Liga MX femenil, the president of the league, Enrique Bonilla, told the newspaper Medio Tiempo that they operate in red numbers for the big investment needed to start the project. However, the players have felt at a disadvantage. This is the case of Alicia Cervantes of the Atlas, who resigned for the low salary of 750 dollars per month, according to ESPN information. In the Colombian league, the best-paid players receive between 1,400 dollars and 2,100 dollars per month, while those who earn less get between 700 dollars and 1,400 dollars, according to El Colombiano.
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Technical director Melissa Núñez, who works in the Liga MX for women, said in an interview with the newspaper Récord that "they should support with education and much more with clubhouses, where they can sleep and eat," in reference to salaries and other needs of the players. Clubs must provide the same opportunities to both categories. In the cases of the Mexican and Colombian league, the women's clubs are backed by existing clubs in the men's leagues.
The Medio Tiempo portal says that in Colombia the federation of that country gave two years to the clubs of the men's league to develop their female counterpart, starting in 2017. In Mexico, for the tournament that is just beginning, the 18 clubs are already participating in both leagues.
This opens training spaces and even stadiums for both categories to use. Despite this, the reality of Mexico, Colombia and Brazil are not the same as that of the other countries in the region. The media La Izquierda highlights the case of Argentina, ensuring that players must train at night with the danger of insecurity and without salaries or travel expenses.
Sponsorships, broadcasts and overcrowding
El Colombiano quotes a marketing expert who says that the Colombian league must develop its soccer industry, that is, sponsors, transmissions, foreign stars, and fans. So far the efforts of the Liga Águila Femenina have paid off and Medio Tiempo puts it as a pioneering project in South America. It even highlights the hiring of foreigners from Ecuador, Venezuela, Argentina, Costa Rica and Azerbaijan to strengthen the league, which until now is not in the plans of the Mexican league.
For its part, the Liga MX femenil has taken a huge leap in its first year, as it has broken local and global records on attendance at games played by women. The most recent final between Monterrey FC and the Tigers Football Club, both teams from the city of Monterrey, had an attendance of 38 thousand 230 in the first leg and 51 thousand 211 in the round, being the two most attended games in the history of global female soccer. In the top 10, there are five Liga MX games, one from the Águila League and one from the Brazilian Championship, according to information from the newspaper Marca Claro.
This demonstrates that the fans are already present in the stadiums, that there is already a public for the transmissions of the games that are willing to acquire products from their female stars. The Puma brand, for example, designed for the Club Deportivo Guadalajara Femenil a shirt different from that of the men's team in order to have its own image.
However, the leagues of the region still have a lot of work ahead. The leagues of Colombia and Mexico, as well as those of Canada and the United States, are the examples to follow for the others. Latin America breaks down prejudices about women in soccer little by little and gives them their rightful place. The goal will be that the playing conditions are the same for men and women.
LatinAmerican Post | Luis Angel Hernández Liborio
Translated from "Latinoamérica: Este es el panorama de las ligas femeninas de fútbol"