England take on Argentina in huge Women’s World Cup clash… but the South Americans didn’t even have a team three years ago and only went professional in February
- Argentina’s women’s national team essentially disbanded after losing funding
- It has been a long road back, but they’re finally being recognised back at home
- They drew with 2011 champions Japan on Monday, and will now face England
It’s been an emotional ride for the Argentina women’s team over the past few years, as shown by the players’ reaction to their draw against Japan in their Women’s World Cup opener on Monday.
‘It’s not been easy at all,’ left-back Eliana Stabile said, according to BBC Sport. ‘We’ve been fighting all this time in Argentina and now we have to push a little harder because what we do now will make it easier for those who come after us.’
After failing to qualify for the Canada World Cup in 2015 the team lost funding from the Argentine Football Association.
Argentina, who had disbanded three years ago, will face England in the Women’s World Cup
After returning to the game, Argentina managed a draw in their World Cup opener with Japan
Eventually some funding returned, but in 2017, meagre payments of just £7 for training expenses didn’t arrive on time and they were not given accommodation for a Copa America match.
‘I came back in 2017 and when I came home, everybody had changed,’ said head coach Carlos Borrello according to the BBC.
‘We had a women’s team but we only had 15 days to train before the Copa America. We didn’t know much because I didn’t have much material to look at.’
The players celebrated the nation’s first ever World Cup point as if they had won the match
After going on strike, they sat down with the AFA with a list of demands. This eventually resulted in them gaining proper accommodation, locker rooms, and the ability to train on actual grass rather than plastic.
ARGENTINA WOMEN’S TEAM FACTS
- Reached World Cup in 2003 and 2007 but lost all six matches
- Failed to qualify for Canada 2015 and lost funding from AFA
- Went on strike in 2017, looking for better facilities and treatment
- Qualified for 2019 World Cup
- Drew opening game with 2011 champions Japan
It was only in February of 2019 that the AFA agreed to professional contracts for the players, after Argentina had qualified for the World Cup. Top-flight clubs must now have at least eight players on deals similar to that of men’s teams.
The international team is still made up of a mixture of professionals and amateurs.
Qualification for the World Cup and the change in attitude means the players are now getting recognised in their home country more than ever. Argentina had been to the World Cup in 2003 and 2007, but lost all six matches and only scored twice.
At this World Cup, they’ve already managed a draw against 2011 champions Japan, prompting scenes of jubilation for the nation’s first ever point at the tournament. People are beginning to take notice, and they will now face third ranked England on Friday.
The players are now being noticed back at home, with professional contracts now on offer
Argentine journalist Nico Valado told the BBC that ‘people at home are tired of the men’s team. The World Cup last year was disgusting for us. Now they have something new, something pure.’
The men’s team crashed out of the World Cup in 2018 in the round of 16 to eventual champions France. In their four games they only managed one win.
‘There’s a feminist movement in Argentina and the power of the woman, and the players, is very important now,’ said Valado. ‘It’s thanks to hearts of the players and their rebel spirit that we have been able to plough forward.’