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The women's soccer league in Japan should be an example for Latin America

The We League is the first women's soccer league in Japan, and promises to continue to advance in gender equality and sports development.

Soccer players in a match

Japan is one of the nations that has made the most progress in women's football worldwide, obtaining impressive results. Photo: Pexels

LatinAmerican Post | Nicolás Donoso

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Leer en español: La liga femenina de fútbol en Japón debe ser un ejemplo para Latinoamérica

September 12 marked a before and after in soccer in Japan, just because the Asian country has taken a step forward in terms of equal rights between men and women, and since that day it has a professional women's soccer league. The We League (league of female empowerment) and that comes to replace the Nadeshiko league, a competition that since 1989 and in an amateur way was the first division of Japanese soccer and which from now on will be the second and third categories.

Eleven are the teams that are part of a tournament that will have the European calendar (starting in September and ending in May), and where there will be no relegation in the first years so that the competition can be consolidated. The format is just like an European league, playing two games against each other and the team that obtains the most points in the almost eight months of the contest will win the tournament.

Among the main novelties offered by this change is that, at least, 15 players who are part of the squad of each team must have a professional contract, and if they want, they can pursue higher education in their own clubs to be able to perform in the future as soccer coaches.

Likewise, leaders, workers and coaching staff will receive constant training on LGBTQ + rights to promote respect for diversity, and at least 50% of the club's workers must be women and there must be at least one member at the administrative and in the technical team respectively that is woman.

On the other hand, the streaming service, DAZN, is in charge of broadcasting all the matches that are being played day by day in the country of the rising sun, and they also promise to bring coverage of the league to much of the world through the same platform. The compacts of each game are also available on the official YouTube channel of the We League, in order to give greater visibility and coverage to a tournament that is just beginning.

Latin America should take Japan as an example and bet on professionalization

Japan is one of the nations that has made the most progress in women's soccer worldwide, obtaining impressive results that include the 2011 Women's World Cup, a silver medal at the London 2012 Olympic Games and a world runner-up in Canada 2015 at the adult level . while at the youth level they have a U17 World Cup and a U20 world championship. Despite all the successes achieved in the last decade, they have not wanted to be left behind and have decided to take the step of betting on the professionalization of the sport that allows them to continue growing in all areas.

In Latin America, this should be seen as an example to be followed by all the nations of the continent, understanding that the more and better opportunities are offered to the players and of better quality and level the local championships, the possibilities of that the national teams can compete at world level against the great powers.

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Countries like Brazil, Colombia and Mexico have been taking small steps in terms of professionalization, but they still have a long way to go before they can finally consolidate. In Mexico, each male team in the first division must have a female team, so the highest female division in the Aztec country is made up of 18 teams, the problem lies mainly in the salary of the soccer players, and that is that according to data of the Colombian newspaper, El Tiempo, the remunerations for women do not exceed two million Colombian pesos.

In Colombia, the panorama is not very different, and according to data from the same portal, teams usually pay based on the experience and trajectory of a player. In other words, the youngest players can get just one million pesos, while the more experienced, five million COP, which is far from being a commensurate salary to encourage athletes to dedicate themselves professionally to soccer.

The situation in Brazil is not the most ideal either, according to the information provided by the Brazilian journalist, José Roberto Coutinho, of the digital medium Portal IG, the salary differences between men and women are still very large. In addition, the stadiums that they use are not in the best conditions, there is not much visibility by the Brazilian Football Confederation (despite the fact that they forced the clubs of the first division of men's soccer to have female teams) and there is no a lot of work in the lower divisions to train players.

Women's soccer continues to grow year after year, attracting more and more interest from fans and the countries that are committed to developing the discipline continue to join. However, and just as Japan has just done, many nations, especially Latin America, need to take women's sport seriously, bet on the development, improvement and training of female soccer players, and thus aspire to achieve professionalization. Because, after all, that is the minimum floor that any athlete needs to be able to compete in high performance.