The Argentine women’s soccer team – which this Friday will bid farewell to the country playing an international friendly with Peru in the San Nicolás match in Buenos Aires, starting at 8:30 p.m. and broadcast by Public TV and DSports – will arrive for the first time at a World Cup with a fully professionalized squad, in which all its soccer players make a living from soccer or at least dedicate themselves almost 100 percent to being players.
Most of the soccer players in the National Team are in foreign leagues, which continue to have a better level than Argentina. In the current squad, nine players play in the local environment –UAI Urquiza (2), Boca (2), Rosario Central (2), River, Estudiantes de Buenos Aires and Huracán– and another 14 are abroad: five in Brazil , four in Spain, two in the United States, one in Italy, one in Mexico and one in Chile.
From the 2019 World Cup squad in France, ten soccer players out of the 23 played abroad – eight in the Spanish league, one in France and one in Colombia – and 13 were in Argentine soccer – UAI Urquiza (6), Boca (2 ), River (2), Central (2) and Sol de Mayo– which was just beginning a process of semi-professionalization.
Precisely in that World Cup year, in 2019, the president of the AFA, Claudio “Chiqui” Tapia, announced the professionalization of women’s soccer, which began with eight contracts per team, equivalent to what the First C players charged.
For the first time, female soccer players would be recognized as workers for their practice in Argentina, in an achievement that arose in a context of the struggle for better conditions by soccer players accompanied by feminist movements.
You don’t have to go back too many years to remember the situation in which the soccer players representing Argentina were and what they had to fight to stop being ignored or directly excluded from a sport that historically was for men.
In September 2017, through a public letter, the women’s team announced a stoppage until the “structural problems” were resolved. The requests were basic: the payment of per diem, a natural grass field to be able to train and rest in a hotel when they had to travel since, for example, in a friendly against Uruguay, in Montevideo, the players had to sleep on the bus until game time because they had nowhere to stay.
While the team was about to debut in the final home run of the 2018 Copa América in Chile, the soccer players of the selected team found out through social networks that the shirt was going to be presented by a model and not by a player, unlike what happened in the men’s team, for which Lionel Messi displayed the new official kit for Russia 2018. In response, the squad took a team photo making the Mole Gigio gesture to “be heard”.
That no longer happens. Women’s football has a prominent place for the AFA (in infrastructure, medical and technical equipment, travel and training conditions) and its sponsors. The brand that dresses the selected teams designs exclusive shirts for the Argentine players, which are presented by the soccer players themselves. Messi also wore the alternative jacket (inspired by the Hornocal mountain range) in a presentation video of the Australia and New Zealand 2023 World Cup in support of the women’s team.
In Argentina, accompanying the growth of local professional soccer with television of almost all the matches, the opening of the stadiums, the arrival of Boca Juniors to a final of the Copa Libertadores and the improvement of the contracts of those who play in foreign clubs , in recent seasons the footballers competed in all FIFA windows to win friction.
The third place achieved in the Copa América in Colombia, with the comeback against Paraguay in the match for the last World Cup ticket (the Argentines lost 1-0 and finally prevailed 3-1), meant the most important moment of 2022 for the National Team that had forward Yamila Rodríguez –ex-Boca, now a Palmeiras player from Brazil– as the scorer of the continental tournament.
Germán Portanova’s team, Carlos Borrello’s successor since July 2021, not only qualified for the World Cup without a repechage, but also took advantage of all the FIFA windows in the search to consolidate an idea of the game, not so much retreat and go looking for the rival goal despite the physical disadvantages in relation to the powers.
After the 2022 Copa América in July in Colombia, the selected team played at home and lost to Canada (2-0) and Poland (2-2) in October; was thrashed by Spain as a visitor (7-0); they beat Chile (4-0) and New Zealand (victories of 2-0 and 1-0) in February in the oceanic country; and Venezuela in Argentina (1-1 and 3-0) in April.