Colombian women’s soccer league to keep professional status
BOGOTA, Colombia (AP) — Women’s soccer has been handed a major boost in Colombia as officials reverted plans to cancel the local professional league.
Colombia’s professional football association, Dimayor, voted on Tuesday evening to maintain the professional status for the national women’s league and created a commission that will look into how to make it financially sustainable.
Last week, football officials in the South American country had announced that the 23-team league would be downgraded to amateur status due to its poor economic results. But players and the local media pressured officials to reconsider, saying that the cancellation of professional soccer would leave dozens of players without jobs and dash the hopes of thousands of girls playing in lower divisions.
Women’s soccer has had a turbulent month in Colombia, with sexual harassment complaints against two coaches and accusations that players in the national team were not given the same benefits as their male counterparts.
But the conflicts also reignited interest in women’s soccer, which often goes uncovered by local media.
Dimayor President Jorge Enrique Velez said he has received calls from a handful of companies now willing to sponsor the women’s league, which will start its third season in August.
But the league will have to go through major restructuring in order to become financially viable. One proposal that has been presented to players is to cut the number of teams to between eight and 12.
Colombia is just one of three countries in South America with professional women’s soccer, along with Venezuela and Brazil. The Colombian league was launched in 2017 and is run by clubs that have managed male teams for several decades.