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Lack of recognition, low salaries, and even sexism are the obstacles that do not allow this sport to grow in its female division
"The main obstacle has been sexism and, secondly, the little support that women's soccer has had. There are no sponsors," were Catalina Usme's words, ex-captain of the Colombia team, when the BBC asked her in 2011 about what it was like to be a woman and a soccer player in Latin America.
It has been 8 years and the situation has not changed. Until a few days ago it was not known what would happen to the Colombian women's soccer league, created in 2017. Since the Federation had proposed to remove its professional character and that most players were Sub 23. After hard pressure from the athletes, the directives confirmed on March 12 that the professional league will take place in August.
LO LOGRAMOS!!! Si habrá torneo profesional femenino en Colombia!!!— Melissa Ortiz (@MelissaMOrtiz) 12 de marzo de 2019
Se designa un comite con America, Cortulua, Santafe y Huila con @Coldeportes y la @ViceColombia de la republica! #Menosmiedomasfutbol #FutbolFemenino @Isaeche11 pic.twitter.com/L526drisZw
This uncertainty was a sign of the precariousness of women's soccer in the country. However, it is not an exclusive condition of Colombia. In much of Latin America there is a similar situation, not to say worse.
In one of the most enthusiast countries for soccer, female competition is amateur. Although since 1991 a women's championship has been played, its players are not considered professionals.
Many athletes have to have separate jobs to be able to maintain their dream. There is no real salary or consolidated infrastructure to keep the players. According to the newspaper El País, in 2018 each player received 150 Argentinian pesos per day ($4.85 dollars) as per diem for being in a team.
In recent years, the growth of the feminist movement in the country has put inequality in women's soccer on the radar. Thanks to this, on March 16 the Argentinian Football Association (AFA) announced the creation of a female professional league. For this purpose, 24 million Argentinian pesos ($ 600,000 dollars) will be allocated annually to help the participating teams.
#FútbolFemenino El Presidente de la AFA, Claudio Tapia, y el Secretario General de Agremiados, Sergio Marchi, firmaron el acuerdo que dará el puntapié inicial a la #LigaProfesionalDeFútbolFemenino. pic.twitter.com/VwvJ5s0sQf— AFA (@afa) 16 de marzo de 2019
For more than a decade, the Brazilian Marta has dominated the world of women's soccer. However, for a long time the native of Alagoas went unnoticed in her own country. Only when the female 'Canarinha' achieved its first successes, was her talent recognized.
Currently, Brazil has the most important women's soccer competition in the region, so much so that two tournaments of this category are held each year: the Brazilian Championship and the Brazilian Cup. In the first, only 16 teams play, while in the second competition the 32 teams that play throughout the country compete.
Salaries are not according to the sport level of the competition. According to the Distintas Latitudes website, the highest salary in the category, 1,400 dollars, is paid by Santos.
The Mexican women's league, founded on December 5, 2016, is one of the few on the continent that has the same representation as in the male branches, 18 teams. In the same way, it is one of the few women's competitions that plays all year round having two semiannual tournaments, the closing and the opening.
Since its inception, Liga MX Femenil has exceeded expectations in terms of stadium attendance. In 2018, four of the five women's matches with the largest public were held in Mexico. All of them exceeded 37,000 fans.
Despite the rapid consolidation of the female branch, similar problems are also evident in the region. Women receive much lower payments than their male counterparts. Moreover, according to a study by the Global Sports Salaries Survey, Mexicans barely receive 4.4% of the money received by female players in European leagues.
The Peruvian Football Federation (FPF) ordered that as of 2019 all-male clubs had to have a women's division or contribute financially to a female team already established. Any organization that fails to comply would not be registered in national and international competitions. However, several clubs were included in the league this year without having organized a women's team.
Although the Federation has not confirmed it, it has been speculated that the intention is to create a professional female league with first and second division. According to El Bocón, from the FPF, it has been studied that the points won by the women's divisions are added to the male ranking. While the idea begins to be consolidated, the country has been playing the Copa Peru since 2008, a semi-professional tournament with three stages (provincial, regional and national).
Since 2008, a league with 26 women's teams has been played in the southern country. Among the squads, there are the divisions of women from clubs of great recognition at the continental level such as Colo-Colo and U. de Chile. However, for some years the players have requested that, beyond having a tournament, they must be recognized as professionals.
This request was only heard after the second place that the feminine national team won in the Copa América in 2018. The excellent result convinced the directors of the National Association of Professional Soccer of Chile (ANFP) to change the format of the competition. Gone are the regional groups so that, starting in 2019, a single national tournament will be played with 30 teams that will be divided into first and second division.
LatinAmerican Post | Juan Sebastián Lombo
Translated from "El fútbol femenino sigue siendo una materia pendiente en Latinamérica"