Women score goals against sexism in Colombia with the final of Libertadores

Against everything and everyone, América de Cali managed to reach the final of the Copa Libertadores Femenina by eliminating the great favorite Corinthians, although it was close to being champion.

Players of America de Cali Female

The tournament held in Colombia is the one that lasts the least in relation to the other women’s leagues in South America, and it does not have a relegation system either. Photo: IG-americadecali_fem

LatinAmerican Post | Julián Gómez

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Leer en español: La mujeres meten goles al machismo en Colombia con final de Libertadores

With this feat, the players continue to show incredulous managers that it is worth investing in women's soccer in the country. The achievement goes beyond winning or not winning the trophy. Colombia is the country with the worst conditions to play women's soccer in South America, and even so, Colombians have been recognized and respected by the rest of South American countries in international tournaments.

Colombia in the Women's Libertadores Cup

Since the 2009 Copa Libertadores Femenina, Colombia has had 6 teams that have represented it: Intimate Forms (8 times), América de Cali (2 times), Independiente Santa Fe (2 times), Generaciones Palmiranas (1 time) , Atlético Huila (1 time) and Real Pasión (1 time).

Of the participations already mentioned in Copa Libertadores Femenina, for Colombia there has been a champion once with Atlético Huila (2018), twice runner-up with Intimate Forms (2013) and América de Cali (2020), twice third place with Intimate Forms ( 2009) and América de Cali (2019), and fourth once with Formas Íntimas (2014). In the historical table of points, the fourth team is Intimate Forms, representing Colombia; but in the sum of countries, Colombia occupies third place in the historical table of the Copa Libertadores Femenina.

In addition, the historical top 10 of scorers has three Colombian players: Catalina Usme, first along with the Brazilian Cristiane with 29 goals; Yisela Cuesta, sixth with 17 goals; and Diana Ospina, seventh with 15 goals.

Precarious duration of the Colombian Women's Soccer League

The tournament held in Colombia is the one that lasts the least in relation to the other women's leagues in South America, and above all, it is one of the three countries –together with Venezuela and Paraguay- that does not have a relegation system. Here are the exact data on the duration of South American leagues under normal conditions (without pandemic):

  • Brazil – 10 months
  • Argentina – 7 months
  • Chile – 8 months
  • Bolivia – 9 months
  • Ecuador – 6 months
  • Paraguay – 10 months
  • Uruguay – 8 months
  • Venezuela – 7 months
  • Colombia – 3 months

Concern about the short duration of the Colombian Women's Soccer League has already been denounced by the players of the Colombian National Team.

They demand that the championships in Colombia last longer, not only so as not to lose the rhythm of the competition, but also to have more media exposure and thus bring the sponsors closer to investing in the teams. They point out that the longer the championship lasts and the more media exposure there is, the more likely that many players will be seen by foreign clubs and will be able to play in those countries dedicated solely to soccer.

By 2021, the Colombian Women's Soccer League will shorten the duration of the championship and it will only last 2 months. Dimayor justified that it is because the 2021 Libertadores Feminine Cup is played in September and they must have a champion by that date. However, this proposal fell badly on the soccer players, also because there are less than 10 teams interested in forming the championship.

Without a really competitive league and with much precariousness, in soccer in Europe, Asia, and North America there are at least 25 professional Colombian players: 16 in Spain, 3 in Italy, 2 in Switzerland, 1 in Greece, 1 in China, and 2 in the U.S.

Also read: Revelations and disappointments, this is how the Premier League goes

Financing of Colombian women's soccer

For women's soccer in Colombia, the resources available in its first professional league of 2017 were divided into $ 500,000 by FIFA; $ 422,750 from the Major Division of Colombian Soccer (Dimayor); and 140,912 dollars from the Ministry of Sports. While the support of FIFA is maintained and that of the Ministry of Sports equaled that of Dimayor, this body points out that there is less and less money to support women's soccer.

Machismo in Colombian women's soccer

Although Colombia has to its credit being the champion team of the Pan American Games and being the first Spanish-speaking women's team to overcome the group stage in a 2015 World Cup in Canada, the team has not been exempt from complaints of sexual harassment, workplace harassment, and precarious working conditions.

In 2019, soccer players Isabella Echeverry and Melissa Ortiz denounced that they were not being paid, they were given old uniforms, they were not offered international flights, and that the FCF itself has banned soccer players from speaking.

According to the soccer players, the Colombian Soccer Federation does not use the FIFA dates, they even lasted almost two years without friendlies and when they played against the United States they were beaten, with the plus that they were in concentration without a physical trainer to play the games.

To this are added complaints of sexual harassment. According to an investigation published by the League Against Silence, the physiotherapist Carolina Rozo denounced Didier Luna, coach of the Colombia Sub-17 National Team, for sexual harassment.

Meanwhile, the soccer player Lizeth Cano – a minor at the time – denounced Sigifredo Alonso – physical coach of the Colombia Under-17 National Team – for trying to sexually abuse her.

The stigmatization of women's soccer in Colombia does not stop. At the time Gabriel Camargo, president of Deportes Tolima, declared in derogatory and homophobic comments that female soccer players are “more "tomatrago" than men…. (and that women's soccer teams are) a breeding ground for tremendous lesbianism."

It is known that there are currently three projects that generate worthy contracts for soccer players, not only for the duration of the 2 or 3-month championship. These teams are Independiente Santa Fe (current champion of the Colombian Women's League), América de Cali (current runner-up of the Colombian Women's League and finalist of the Copa Libertadores Femenina), and Atlético Nacional.

If under these conditions, female soccer players continue to raise the country's name in international competitions, what would happen if they had decent conditions to play women's soccer?

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