It’s a big week for soccer fans: Colombia is officially getting its first pro female soccer league. According to El Heraldo, the Colombian soccer league Dimayor officially announced on Friday that as of 2017, female soccer players will be able to organize and play as part of a new pro female league — an opportunity that women in Colombia have long been asking for.
Colombia already has an existing women’s national team, Las Cafeteras, which has qualified for two FIFA Women's World Cups, proving that the the country already has plenty of female talent. The new pro female league will become the fourth one in Latin America, joining Argentina, Brazil, and Chile, giving female soccer players a much greater opportunity to play professionally.
"I feel very good that women are finally being taken into account,” Laura Ariza, captain of Colombia’s youth team said in an interview with La Nacion. “We can play good soccer. Hopefully I can one day compete on a professional team.”
Despite there being over 29 million registered women and girls playing soccer globally, according to Women's Soccer United, women are still at a tremendous disadvantage compared to men when it comes to creating and sustaining a professional career in soccer.
In the U.S. and Europe, for example, women earn $20,000 less than the minimum salary of men playing in an equivalent league, according to ESPN. Women also have little representation on the governing body. According to Quartz, men outnumber women 8:1 on FIFA’s executive committee.
The opportunity for pro women in Colombia couldn’t have come at a better time.
“Soccer is for everyone, and the sport is delayed to include women,” Soccer fan Fernando Perdomo Rodríguez told La Nacion. “ I hope the women's league is formed soon. "