The COVID-19 pandemic has had a huge negative impact on different disciplines worldwide. However, female soccer is also facing other older enemies at the same time.
Over the last years, female soccer has advanced gigantic steps towards recognition in Latin America. Being one of the few sports with either little or no international female representation, it seemed it had finally taken a considerable boost. But then, pandemic. The COVID-19 virus has forced disciplines to adapt themselves in many ways. No audiences, changes in regulations, and even international associations have had to meet a certain balance between their competitions and health-oriented measures.
In the case of female soccer, these adaptations have made their way by taking a few steps backward. The restriction on audiences, for example, has meant a huge loss, both financially and regarding popularity. The absence of that revenue represented a setback, while the impossibility of being 100% televised – most countries broadcast just a few important matches- caused interest to decrease. And these current challenges are nothing but an addition to what the women’s soccer world has to put up within the region.
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While Mexico, Brazil, and Chile have been pilgrims in female soccer, they still struggle with chauvinism and salary disparity when compared to men’s discipline. Still, and due to their perseverance, FIFA has decided to contribute with U$500,000 for each country. A great aid in times of financial crisis.
Colombia has had a constant main role in international competitions. Such are the cases of 2010 and 2014 America Cup second place, World Cup qualifications in 2011 and 2015, and a gold medal in 2019 Pan-American games. But despite all these recognitions, players were not having a good time. Isabella Echeverri and Melissa Ortiz took a step forward and decided to make themselves heard through a video posted on their social media.
Decidimos ser honestas con la realidad del futbol en nuestro país. Con una serie de videos queremos crear conocimiento de lo que está pasando. Amamos a nuestro país y queremos que las cosas cambien para el bien de las mujeres futbolistas. @MelissaMOrtiz #menosmiedomasfutbol pic.twitter.com/Y6aT7mmKTO
— Isabella Echeverri R (@Isaeche11) February 18, 2019
After banning women from playing soccer between 1941 and 1979, Brazil has become one of the most advanced territories regarding this discipline. During these late years, two major events have put recognition on stage. The female league was created in 2013, and in 2019 it has changed some regulations. According to this last reform, all male clubs are required to have a female league team. Star player Martha has also rocketed Brazilian female soccer internationally.
The Argentinean Football Association has also made some reforms regarding female soccer. Having created a female league in 1991 – almost 80 years after introducing soccer-, in 2019 they started demanding clubs to have at least 8 paid players. This means that many players are still unpaid, and need another job to generate income. After the 2019 World Cup qualification, female soccer has achieved more followers in the country.
Chile has taken things further ahead. After the support they were receiving from the federation since 2008 came to a halt, they decided to create a union. Thus, the Female Soccer Players National Association was founded. Its intention is to defend its players’ rights, aiming at soccer as a dignified economical resource for women. This resulted for the better, boosting the National Team, which achieved qualification for the 2019 World Cup.
“Soccer is a place for both men and women”, Iona Rothfield in an interview by Contragolpe.