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Argentine women’s soccer is to turn professional in June, but only just

Time: 2019-04-29 20:43cheongsam dress Click:

The women’s game is turning professional in Argentina, but there is very little in that status to compare with the world in which the nation’s male superstar Lionel Messi operates and excels.

The Argentine Football Association (AFA) last month announced that the 16-team women’s top division would become professional from June — a welcome boon ahead of the FIFA Women’s World Cup that is to kick off that same month in France.

Argentina have qualified for only the third time in their history, but scratching below the surface, women’s professionalism is a far cry from that enjoyed by Messi, the highest-paid player in the world at US$84 million per year.

AFA has created a fund worth US$2,600 per month for each team to pay the salaries of eight players — those players, not enough to make up a full team, are to earn 15,000 Argentine pesos (US$327) each.

“People see that the national team isn’t doing so well, but no one sees that we can’t live on this,” said Camila Gomez Ares, 24, who plays for Boca Juniors.

Those eight salaries amount to the typical single wage of a men’s fourth-division player.

“Clubs invest in the men, but it’s only the biggest clubs that do so with us, and even then it’s a little,” added Gomez Ares, whose team bans the women’s players from using the men’s pitch to keep it pristine for the men.

One women’s team, San Lorenzo, has decided to pay all 16 of its female players, but is the exception.

Even at Boca and River Plate — the two best-supported men’s teams in the nation — women are only paid expenses.

Top-flight women players have to pay for their own transport, boots, clothing and even medical insurance.

“Some pay membership fees [to their club] and if there’s a shortage to pay the doctor, police or ambulance, they have to sell raffle tickets or pay money to play,” said Florencia Quinones, a 32-year-old Boca midfielder who once played for Barcelona.

“It’s about economics,” said Victoria Bedini, a 28-year-old cleaner who trains in the evenings with the modest Excursionistas club in Buenos Aires, where “boots, clothing, everything is paid for by the players.”

The club does not even pay expenses, meaning that players often fail to turn up for training.

“They don’t have enough to pay for the transport,” Bedini said.

One issue is that the South American Football Confederation has launched a push to encourage teams to show more interest in the women’s game.

“The problem is they look for 20 girls and keep them in horrible conditions, because they’re obliged to,” said Macarena Gomez, whose judicial claim against her club, UAI Urquiza, over the lack of a contract was the catalyst that led to professionalism.

She sees the major problem as one of culture.

“The wrench in the works is a backward and macho thinking that permeates football,” the 27-year-old added.

Given their struggles, just qualifying for the World Cup was an achievement for Argentina, who overcame Panama in a playoff to reach the showcase.

They hope to perform far better there than in their last World Cup appearance, in China 12 years ago.

Among chastening defeats to Germany (11-0) and England (6-1), they exited the competition with three defeats from three, a single goal scored and 18 conceded.

They are to face 2011 champions Japan, 2015 semi-finalists England and debutants Scotland in a daunting group stage.

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