Colombia women’s national team accuses FCF of discrimination, neglect

Colombian footballer Natalia Gaitan (center) speaks during a press conference of the Colombian women’s national football team in Bogota, Colombia, in March 2019.  Gonzalez Puche and players of the Colombian women national football team accused the Federation of Colombian Futbol of sexual discrimination. (Photo by Diana Sanchez/AFP/Getty Images)

The Colombian women’s national team accused the Federation of Colombian Futbol (FCF) of sexual discrimination and receiving inferior benefits to their male counterparts, according to BBC.

The U.S. women’s national soccer team is not the only one fighting a battle against gender discrimination. Colombia’s team is in a state of neglect.

The accusations come on the heels of the top-ranked U.S. women’s national team filing a lawsuit against U.S. Soccer alleging discrimination.

The American women accused U.S. Soccer of “institutionalized gender discrimination,” and relegating them to second-class status behind the men’s team, which has had nowhere near the success as their female counterparts on the international stage.

According to the lawsuit, the team is being paid significantly less than the men’s team, as little as 38 percent of pay per contest.  

This lawsuit comes months before the U.S. sets to defend its World Cup title in France in the 2019 FIFA World Cup.

Colombia doesn’t have a head coach following the firing of coach Nelson Abadia in June 2018.  The players have not been getting paid their normal fixed sum of 60,000 Colombian pesos (about $20) per day. The team has also accused the FCF of not paying for international flights to attend team training camps, which in more than one occasion had year-long gaps in between them.

Melisa Ortiz and Isabella Echeverri have been at the forefront of the accusations.

Ortiz said the FCF treats the women’s squad with “no respect,” adding: “They’re treating us like second-class citizens and not giving us the respect we deserve. They have a ‘machista’ mindset.”

“I demand they respect and value us, not only as people, but as footballers. It doesn’t matter whether we’re male or female,” Ortiz told BBC.

These accusations have produced rousing support from members of the Colombian men’s national team, who called, in a Twitter statement, for an investigation.

According to Ortiz, the team went more than 400 days without a coach or training session following the 2016 Rio Olympics, and 745 days without a coach or training session following the 2012 London Olympics.

The team doesn’t have any games scheduled. Colombia failed to qualify for the 2019 FIFA World Cup in France after finishing fourth in the Copa America Femenina.

It’s not just the national team the federation fails to support. The top flight women’s league in Colombia, Liga Aguila Femenina, is in danger of losing funding and support. The league has a three-year funding commitment from CONMEBOL (the South American football governing body), DIMAYOR (which runs professional football in Colombia), and FIFA (the international governing body).

However, the commitment is set to end following the 2019 season, and, according to The Equalizer, there isn’t a whole lot of confidence the league will continue to be supported.

After Colombian club Atlético Huila won the Copa Libertadores Femenina in December, star Yoreli Rincon posted on social media that the team would never see the $55,000 for winning the competition. That and the viral video of the team being forced to sleep on the airport floor following their championship victory highlight just a small part of the problem.

TJ Mathewson is a junior journalism student at Arizona State University

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