It’s no secret that women’s football is treated in lesser regard to men’s, rather unfairly, and in more ways than just television coverage and attention. Female footballers make significantly less income than their male counterparts and in a country like Argentina, women’s football is not even a professional sport and something that women can do to earn an income. For players like Macarena Sanchez, this is a massive issue.
Macarena Sanchez played as a striker for one of the most illustrious clubs in women’s football in her country: UAI Urquiza. A self-proclaimed football feminist, Sanchez is no stranger for standing up for what she believes in. She’s an active LGBTQ community member and advocate for LGBTQ rights in the country. She’s also been quoted in the past regarding making professional football a mixed gender sport. However, at the start of the year, the centre forward took her activism to a whole other level when she sued her very own club and footballing federation.
After receiving word that her services for UAI Urquiza would no longer be required, Sanchez made the bold decision to sue her club and the Argentine Football Association. She publicly laid out the multitude of different factors that contribute to women’s football being held in a lesser regard to the men’s game and in her allegations she also cited the inequality between the federation’s treatment of the far less successful men’s UAI Urquiza (who play in the third division of Argentine football) and women’s UAI Urquiza, who won a national championship in 2017-18. Shockingly, elite athletes who identify as female in Argentina don’t sign contracts like their male counterparts, but instead have player registration cards. This diminishes their rights and their ability to mobilize a career out of professional football. Perhaps even more shockingly, women playing for many clubs across the country are forced to pay to play at the highest level, rather than the £300,000 a player like Paul Pogba would make in any given week.
In her public allegations, Sánchez discussed the lack of progression in women’s rights in the country. Female footballers in Argentina are not part of a union, have no medical coverage, financial support for equipment, have a lack of playing fields and transportation and are widely disadvantaged in comparison to men (Wrack, 2019). These are just a few ways in which the women’s game is severely under-valued in comparison to the men’s game. This isn’t just a problem in Argentina, but all over the world.
The 27-year old striker is not looking for fame or money out of her lawsuit. In fact if she wins the case, Sanchez intends to donate a large portion of her settlement to women’s football in the country. Macarena Sanchez is after equality, social change and a shift away from women’s sports being so widely disregarded by the public. Whether or not she will be successful in her lawsuit, Sanchez has certainly turned heads and brought attention to an issue that quite simply is not being talked about enough.
For more articles like this check out our World Football section. If you enjoyed reading this article you might also like Issues Facing Women in Sport and The Qualities of a Good Sports Captain. See you soon!