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Archive for March 22, 2019

March 22, 2019 — A change in the sporting fabric in the Western Hemisphere?

Four days ago, the union representing men’s and women’s professional soccer teams was able to forge an agreement with the Argentina Football Association to begin a level of professionalism with the nation’s women’s soccer teams.

Argentina, for all of its excellence on the men’s side, has been little more than an afterthought on the women’s side. The Albicelestes have only played in two World Cups thus far, in 2003 and 2007. Argentina is winless in six matches, scoring two goals and conceding 33.

The inequality gulf between men’s and women’s soccer in Argentina was laid bare two years ago when the women’s national team called a players’ strike when their $10 stipend went unpaid.

But now, players in the Argentina first division will be guaranteed a minimum salary of 15,000 Argentine pesos per month.

Taken by itself, this is part of a trend in world soccer where nations like France, Mexico, Germany, Spain, and England have started to professionalize women’s club sides, and have even gotten clubs like Paris, Lyon, America, Arsenal, and Barcelona to sponsor women’s teams.

But I also wonder what is going to happen 10, 20 years down the line when young girls are provided choices of sports to play. How many of them will chase down salaries in women’s soccer and forego the largely amateur world of club field hockey?

Argentina, mind you, has been the dominant force in women’s field hockey in the Pan American Hockey Federation since the mid-1980s, even though the population of the country is about 1/7th of the United States.

I think this changes once Argentina’s women’s population generates its first Messi, not its latest Aymar.