The first ever South American Women’s Football Players Forum took place last week in Santiago, Chile. Ex-players and academics were among those who spoke passionately about the past, present, and future of the women’s game in Latin America.
The forum was a significant milestone in what has been an incredible fightback from the female footballers of the continent against federations that have repressed them. Just two years earlier, starved of resources and recourses, the women’s game in South America was on its knees.
In June 2016 while Conmebol (Copa Libertadores de América) officials unashamedly headed back to South America from the USA with their heads held high after a record-breaking Copa America for the men, the female sides of Argentina, Bolivia, Chile, Paraguay, Peru, and Uruguay were all listed as inactive by FIFA.
This inactivity was not down to a lack of desire to play from the women of course. It is simply an illustration of how little time and money their football associations have for them.
In response to Fifa’s rankings and the lack of interest shown by their own FA, the female footballers of Chile decided to set up their own players’ union (ANJUFF). Led by former Chilean international Iona Rothfeld, the union gained momentum quickly and was soon integrated into the men’s for more support.
As reported by Brenda Elsey in March this led to Chile successfully organizing and hosting the 2018 Copa America with all ten Conmebol nations present – somewhat unthinkable just a few months previous.