From the campo to the Copa: Mexico’s female footballers sidelined

The last shouts and groans had only just stopped echoing off the skirts of Christ the Redeemer before newscasters and bloggers declared the end of the 2014 World Cup, and with it, the end of #football fever, at least for the next four years. Never mind that in the following year #Canada would host the women’s competition; the commentators didn’t expect that international world championship to make much of a stir. And why would they? With little funding, minimal publicity, persistent structural instability and scarce opportunities for fan engagement, #women’s professional football is treated more like a hobby than a profession. 

In #Mexico, #gender #bias starts early in the game. In a country that values football over all other #sports, many girls are discouraged from playing; others are explicitly forbidden. Those who choose to make a career in the game must work with limited opportunities and little promise of recognition. Up to mid-career, they will have to find ways to finance their participation and even at the very highest levels of the sport they will earn a fraction of what their male counterparts do.

In the summer of 2014, during the #FIFA World Cup, I travelled throughout southern Mexico interviewing female footballers in Mexico City and in the states of #Jalisco, #Oaxaca, #Chiapas and #Veracruz. I spoke with players at the recreational, street and professional levels, and with trainers, organization heads and others in the Mexican football community. I found that women and girls are routinely discouraged from participating in the nation’s favourite #sport and that those who defy cultural, familial and organizational expectations face personal and professional hardships. These consequences are firmly attached to gender, and nothing more.

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