CONCACAF Brief

Part
01
of three
Part
01

Women In Soccer Social Barriers, North America

The social attitudes and barriers preventing women from playing soccer in North America often stem from within the government soccer federation as a whole. Most challenges that female soccer players, in North America, are confronted with include inequality in media coverage, a lower standard for resources in comparison to men (game location, coaching, and medical attention), and a substantial gender wage gap between men and women.

social attitudes and barriers that potentially prevent women from playing soccer in North America

Centralized management and control have permitted the US Soccer Federation to
perpetuate gender-based discrimination against women's soccer in nearly every aspect of their employment. Some of the areas of inequality experienced by female soccer players in North America include finacial differences, difference in resources provision, and difference in media coverage.

FINANCIAL DIFFERENCES

Many people believe that women don't deserve to earn as much as men because the men's team generates more money. Men make $3,750 for sponsored appearances, compared to the $3,000 that women are paid. The US Soccer Federation has paid and continues to pay women less than men. A 20-game winning top tier women's player would earn only 38% of the compensation of a similarly situated male player. This issue of inequality in pay has raised a series of argument among female soccer players. They have argued that they are required to play more games than the men’s team, that they win more of them, and yet, they receive less pay from the federation. "One of the biggest differences in compensation is the multimillion-dollar bonuses the teams receive for participating in the World Cup, but those bonuses — a pool of $400 million for 32 men’s teams versus $30 million for 24 women’s teams — are determined by FIFA, world soccer’s governing body, not U.S. Soccer."

DIFFERENCES IN RESOURCES

Women are provided with lower standards when it comes to coaching, medical attention, and pitch quality. They tend to play on artificial turf instead of real grass, sometimes causing burns on the players' skin. "Playing on inferior surfaces, including artificial turf, can lead to significant, career-threatening injuries. Such surfaces also affect fundamentals of the games, including the way the ball bounces and how the ball can be struck." For instance, from January 1, 2014, through December 31, 2017, the women teams played 62 domestic matches, 13 (21%) of which were played on artificial
surfaces. During that same period, the men played 49 local games, only 1 (2%) of which was played on an artificial surface. The USSF arranged for natural grass to be installed temporarily over artificial surfaces for eight of the men's domestic matches, including three venues where the USSF did not temporarily fit natural grass when the women played in those same venues. Gender discrimination has also hurt how often and how they train, as well as how they travel to and from matches.

DIFFERENCES WITHIN THE MEDIA

The media coverage of female athletes is generally low compared to that of their male counterparts. It has been shown that "female athletes receive only three to four percent of media coverage, with industry giants like ESPN and Fox Sports granting them a paltry one to two percent of air time." Women's sports received less TV coverage this decade than they did in the '80s. Fewer media coverage directly impacts the amount of money offered to female athletes through sponsorships, accessibility, and overall popularity. Nearly 82% of female athletes media coverage is given to basketball. The rise in interest in women's sports has not been well publicized in news highlights and shows. For instance, there was no wide publicity regarding the 2015 Women's World Cup final which was the most watched US soccer match in history. Among other things, the USSF has allocated fewer resources promoting women's games than it has allocated promoting men's games.

Part
02
of three
Part
02

Women In Soccer Social Barriers, The Caribbean

The social attitudes and barriers preventing women from playing soccer in the Caribbean were derived to be the following: lack of financial and moral support, lack of resources, discrimination, and tradition.

METHODOLOGY

We started our research by looking for directly available studies on the social attitudes and barriers that potentially prevent women from playing soccer or football in the Caribbean region. Since soccer is almost the same as football, we have considered this in our search. We searched for this information in sports sites such as in CBS Sports, ESPN, Caribbean Sports, and related sites; media sites such as BBC, Caribbean News Now, Caribbean Life News, IPS News, The Grio, Voa News, and others; football-related sites such as the FIFA BVI Football Association, Concacaf, Caribbean Football Union, Cayman Football, Caribbean and Co., CFU Football, Jamaica Observer, and other similar sources. Based on this search approach, we were not able to find comprehensive studies on the barriers or challenges that might prevent women from playing soccer or football. What we found are several articles that describe the stories and problems that women soccer or football teams face as they try to join leagues or clubs. Furthermore, most of the information we found were not only for Caribbean countries but for the Latin American region in general.
We also searched for any surveys or interviews from key women football or soccer personalities to determine if they have given a comprehensive list of challenges that they faced when joining these sports leagues. However, this approach also did not yield extensive information on the challenges or barriers that women athletes face as they try to join professional teams. What we got from these survey and interview responses were some snippets of information on the problems that women soccer players are experiencing when attempting to join international competitions.
We also expanded our search to include annual reports and findings from sports association bodies such as the FIFA and other local football associations. We hoped to find some statistics on these reports that are related to the challenges that aspiring women soccer or football players face. However, we also were not able to find solid statistics around the topic. What we found were some pieces of information on general problems like funding.
Given the limited information available, we have pieced together all the information that we found above to come up with some of the challenges and barriers that women players face when playing soccer or football. We also inferred that these problems also kept most of them from playing the sport in the Caribbean region and in Latin America as a whole. Our findings are summarized in the section below.

Women In Soccer Social Barriers, The Caribbean

In the Caribbean nation of Haiti, the lack of player resources and funding are still hounding the country's women soccer team. Natural calamities and the economic situation in the area further aggravated the situation. Nevertheless, the team plans to strive even more to gain more victory in the coming World Cups.
As for the frequency of donations, the arrival of the support provisions is not continuous. Women's football is still being held back by the lesser level of support given to them. Typically, they have no sponsors, TV rights, exemptions, and other perks that are usually given to country-level players.
Women's clubs also suffer from lack of fans who are attending their sports events. Furthermore, only a handful of clubs can give the female players satisfactory living and playing conditions. There are even club managers who are funding these clubs out of their own money.
As for the Jamaican soccer team, the team previously got dissolved due to financial troubles. Luckily, several sponsors step in such as the Bob Marley Foundation.

LATIN AMERICAN COUNTRIES - WOMEN SOCCER PLAYER CHALLENGES

In Latin American countries like Brazil, there are some social attitudes and barriers that are preventing women from participating in soccer or football. This include the notion that playing the sport is not considered as normal for girls. Traditionally, girls were not allowed to play the sport as most people belive that playing soccer or football is "incompatible with their nature." However, even if this ban was already removed, the discriminatory view still persists.
Furthermore, only a small amount of resources were allotted to women's soccer. Various women's sports events were also canceled. Also, the women player's salaries were meager and not enough as clubs lack the resoures to improve their compensation.
Meanwhile, in Colombia, the women's football team is also facing several challenges. Many of them felt threatened. Some of them are also not paid even when playing for tournaments. The football governing bodies also don't allot out-of-the-country trips flights for them. They also spoke of deplorable conditions such as old gears. Female players who voiced out their opinions were also excluded.

LATIN AMERICAN REGION - WOMEN SOCCER PLAYER CHALLENGES

In South America as a whole, there is a prevailing negative view on female players. Many blamed FIFA for this situation since they have not set a good example.
It was also implied in an Oxford research that there was lack of general funding and support for women soccer players in several countries in the Latin American region. This resulted in the failure of some women's teams in the region to qualify for tournaments such as the women's World Cup.
In Latin America as a whole also, the football arena is considered as the dominion of men who belong to certain ethnicities, race, class, and other demographics. Female involvement in the sport is generally ignored as the focus is more on these preferred breed of players. The advertisements around the sport also reflect the prevalence of female discrimination in soccer culture.

Part
03
of three
Part
03

Women In Soccer Social Barriers, Central America

Some social attitudes and barriers preventing women from playing soccer within Central American countries include unequal pay, high rates of violence against women, conservative female stereotypes, and overall poverty in the region.

METHODOLOGY

We began our research by looking directly at the official pages of each Central American country's female soccer team and any news websites that contained stories about sports in the region. While this returned some promising results, the majority merely reported on the rankings of the teams and their upcoming schedules. After this, we expanded our search by looking into the databases and sites of NGOs, humanitarian missions, and reports from the United Nations. Through this approach, we were able to gain a more precise understanding of the situations women within Central America face daily.

The overall theme amongst all the resources we found was that women were vastly underrepresented, stereotyped, marginalized, and stigmatized within all the countries in the region. These attitudes carried over into the realm of sports where in some parts of these nations, such as Guatemala, women are expressly forbidden from playing what society deems a man's pastime.

While we were able to find specific examples of women in soccer and the issues they face, our research showed that the barriers faced by women within Central America run extremely deep and extend far beyond just their ability to participate in sports.

SOCIAL ATTITUDES

Three Central American countries, Guatemala, El Salvador, and Honduras have been ranked as having the highest femicide rates in the world. According to UN Women, violence against women has been routinely used as a way to force Guatemalan women into submission and punish those who go against the conservative societal expectations for their gender.

Frequently the public's opinion of women in sports hampers how much effort countries put into bridging the inequality gap. Women are expected to become mothers and are often sexualized and associated with more "feminine" topics, like beauty, homemaking, and family, rather than the more "masculine" area of sports. An example of the effect of this attitude is Shirley Cruz, Costa Rica's most famous female soccer player, who had to cut her short to look like a boy so that she could play on male soccer teams as there were so few teams for women. Also, women have been encouraged to wear tighter clothing while playing to draw more spectators, one of the most famous examples noted by Sepp Blatter, the former FIFA president.

SOCIAL BARRIERS

A country's GDP can play a role in the level of gender inequality within sports. As such, a lack of funding from each country's government can prevent women from being able to participate in sports. Poverty affects women disproportionally more so than it does men. According to the World Bank, 70% of the world's poverty is directly affecting women.

While most US soccer players have college degrees, the same cannot be said for Central American players, especially women athletes. Female soccer players are paid less than half of what their male counterparts earn in every country that has a professional team, which includes Central American countries. According to EFE, in the more conservative communities in Guatemala, women are expressly prohibited from playing sports. Based on a report by the International Labour Office on the state of labor within Latin America and the Caribbean, women in the region face an unemployment rate 1.4x higher than that of men. For context, in 2018, Alex Morgan was the highest paid female soccer player in the world, earning $450,000. In contrast, the highest paid male player, Lionel Messi, earned a salary of $84 million.

Sources
Sources

From Part 01
Quotes
  • "This centralized management and control has permitted the USSF to perpetuate gender-based discrimination against Plaintiffs and the class they seek to represent in nearly every aspect of their employment. "
  • " the female players on the WNT were more successful in competition than the male players on the MNT – while being paid substantially less. "