Media Misses Out on Liga MX Femenil Debut

The silence from women’s sports supporters was deafening.

A historic moment in women’s sports transpired recently.

In soccer.

If you went to the front soccer pages of the major sports sites in America during the event, you barely saw a mention of it – (ESPN FC excluded).

Not USA Today, CBS Sports, NBC Sports, SB Nation (you have to dig around for it), Sports Illustrated, Vice Sports – nothing, zilch, zippo, nada.

What am I referring too?

Liga MX Femenil


Last month, I wrote a piece for The Shadow League discussing Major League Soccer’s attempts to combat racism in their sport. In it, I told the story of a mission trip to Mexico 10 years ago.

I described how our group went to a juvenile detention center and mingled with the residents in the large courtyard area. Being the sporty person I am – okay, not so much anymore – I readily joined in a volleyball game and then a soccer game (on concrete).

There is an undercurrent of machismo in the Mexican culture. In some areas it’s loud and pronounced, while in others it’s subtle. This center had a mix of both.

I didn’t care. I just wanted to play.

I played. I got knocked down. I got back up.

And, I proved myself.

They accepted me.

No small feat when you understand the culture. Most of the girls at the center didn’t want to play at all. Why?


Culture can be a dictator. How it is, dictates how you will be. Culture in Mexico has often been the men play sports. Women stay at home, raise the children, cook, clean, etc.

It’s just how it is (was) down there. But, not in my Phoenix, Arizona home.


Youngest child and third daughter of a single mom, sports was a normal thing in my house.

My siblings all played sports. I played sports. My mother loved sports of all kinds. Even in her 80’s, she still loves watching them today.

Whereas most women in sports media gained their love of sports from their fathers, I get mine from my mother. Her mother, from what I know, wasn’t into sports like her. I remember Grandma Margie as a tough firecracker of a woman who knew how to take care of her home while Tata John worked in their field. Whenever we visited, she was always cooking.

It’s a similar scenario for many families across Mexico, so it came as no surprise that many of the girls at the juvenile center didn’t participate in the games.

Fast forward to late 2016.

In December, it was announced that a new women’s league was being formed in Mexico.

Now, this wasn’t just any league. This was a league with the backing (think = $$$$) of the top flight league in men’s fútbol: Liga Bancomer MX. Eight of the 18 men’s teams fielded women’s teams for the inaugural Copa de La Liga MX Femenil tournament.

The teams, including tournament champion Pachúca, will do some touring now and during the summer before actual league play begins with the Apertura this fall.


The backing of Liga Bancomer MX is key to the success of this league, as will the media coverage of it. That is why I was so interested to see how, if at all, media here in America would cover this tournament. 

ESPN FC covered it. SB Nation (sort of) did, but you have to do some digging to find their stories now. Where were the USA Today, New York Times stories? VICE? Even espnW? Think Progress? 

Unless I missed them, they were nowhere to be found.

Where were all the advocates for women’s sports? Where were all the people who take to Twitter any time someone disparages women’s sports? Where were those who talk about growing the game

Their silence was deafening. 

Was it because this was Mexico and not the United States? If the goal is to “grow the game” or increase opportunities for girls/women to play sports, then efforts need to be focused beyond this country. If the goal is to provide opportunities for women and girls to play sports, why wouldn’t you support a sport in a machismo culture? 

Lack of knowledge is no excuse. If you’re an advocate of women’s sports, you make it your business to know when girls and women are getting new opportunities to play sports. 

I’m not talking to those who aren’t advocates. I’m all for liking and watching the sports you want to watch. Don’t like women’s sports? Don’t watch and don’t blast those who do. Watch what you want. Support the sports you like. 

No, I’m talking to those who say they support women’s sports, yet ignore a prime opportunity for girls and women in our neighbors to the south. 

Make of it what you will. As for me, the hypocrisy doesn’t surprise me. I guess it’s too much to ask them to look past their own filters of knowledge.

 Can’t cross those “borders” now, can they? 


EXTRA: To say there were a few that weren’t happy about it….well…let’s just say this would be a good time to learn how to use Google Translate. 


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The Struggle of CONCACAF Women’s Soccer

Another Olympics. Same old, same old.

USA and Canada are the CONCACAF (Confederation of North, Central American and Caribbean Association Football) representatives headed to Rio for women’s Olympic soccer.


The two teams advanced as a result of their semi-final victories in Women’s Olympic qualifying matches in Houston on Friday. USA defeated Trinidad & Tobago, 5-0. Canada defeated Costa Rica, 3-1. The two teams square off on Sunday to determine seeding for Rio.

It was an all too familiar scene in women’s CONCACAF soccer. Canada has qualified for the last three Olympic games. They are the reigning bronze medal winner from the 2012 games. The U.S. has qualified for every Olympics since women’s soccer began playing in the Games since 1996. Mexico is the only other CONCACAF team to qualify having done so in 2004.

Costa Rica, with the 2015 NCAA National Player of the Year Raquel Rodriguez, is improving and on the rise. Mexico, under the same manager since 1998 and swirling in dysfunction, is seemingly going backwards. Trinidad & Tobago, although a semi-finalist in Houston, is nowhere near competitive to the top teams in the region. Guyana, Guatemala, Honduras, Jamaica, Panama and the rest of CONCACAF? Not a chance.

Twitter_ concacaf



The U.S. is currently ranked #1 in the world according to the most recent FIFA rankings (12/18/15). Canada is #11. The next nearest CONCACAF country is Mexico which sits at #26. Costa Rica comes in at #34. The U.S.’s semi-final opponent, Trinidad & Tobago, made it to the top 50…at #48. 

That is the state of women’s soccer in CONCACAF. The United States, Canada and then everyone else. They are the two countries who have made an investment in women’s soccer. Even then, the U.S. women’s team was paid significantly less for their 2015 World Cup victory ($2 million) compared to 2014 men’s WC winners, Germany ($35 million) The reason is simple, according to FIFA. The men get paid more because they make more money for FIFA.

All well and good until you realize that more countries around the world invest in their men’s teams financially, promotionally and organizationally than they do women’s teams. For some countries, there isn’t enough money to go around.


In November 2015, Global Finance Magazine released their list of the world’s richest countries. The numbers were determined based on the GDP (gross domestic product) per capita. In other words, how much the average resident of a country is worth. It also involves something called PPP (purchasing power parity).

Taking the list at face value, here is where the eight CONCACAF teams in women’s Olympic qualifying ranked:

  • United States #9
  • Canada #20
  • Trinidad & Tobago #35
  • Mexico #67
  • Costa Rica #78
  • Guatemala #117
  • Guyana #120
  • Puerto Rico (not registered; on bring of default as of June 2015)

What’s the point of economics in this soccer discussion? Without financing and proper infrastructure, the rest of CONCACAF women’s soccer will continue to lag behind the U.S. and Canada. The only way these teams can make strides is if their players play collegiately in the U.S. 

Check the rosters on teams like a Costa Rica or a Mexico and you will see players that played in the states during college. Some argue that the countries themselves should invest more in women’s soccer. That’s all well and good, but without proper financing…and a change in male attitudes…in these countries, women’s sports will get left behind.  

 “I could go on and on in listing the countries that have made little to no strides forward since 40 million Americans saw at least some of the Women’s World Cup final in 1999,” said soccer legend Julie Foudy in July 2015. “And that is the sad truth: 16 years later the women’s game has barely grown outside of a few countries.”

Although Foudy puts most of the blame on FIFA in her article, the key point remains this: the game hasn’t grown for women around the world. Cultural and gender stereotypes in many countries is a legitimate barrier. That, in turn, dictates how much a country will support (spend money on) women playing sports, let alone soccer. 

FIFA can’t change gender and cultural mindsets because those traits exist within FIFA itself. That said, FIFA is holding its 2nd Annual Women’s Football and Leadership Conference on March 7 in Amsterdam. The goal is to promote equality throughout the sport through reform.   

A good start, but how will those reforms translate to cultural change within an individual country?


Patriotism moves the needle.

When the U.S. defeated Japan in this past summer’s World Cup, the broadcast broke viewership records here in America. While some attributed that to growth and interest in the women’s game, I saw it more patriotism than game-fandom.

American fans love to cheer American athletes and teams. Fans burst with American pride when an American achieves at the highest levels. Every two (previously every four), we celebrate victories in less popular sports like gymnastics or figure skating. We revel in the highs of skiing or track.

Every time the Olympics come around, Americans tune in. Although rating numbers may fluctuate depending on the time zone of the Games, they still are must-see tv for many Americans. All because of patriotism.

Patriotism moves the needle. But, patriotism falls to the wayside when it comes to women’s sports leagues in America. Some argue that until women are in broadcast executive positions, television coverage of women’s sports will be a non-priority. There is some truth to that, but that isn’t the sole reason for the failure of multiple soccer leagues here in the U.S.

NWSL Commissioner Jeff Plush said this in July 2015, “We’re trying to run it like any other business. Revenues have to grow. Expenses will grow over time, but they’re going to grow in a prudent and sustainable way.”

Prudent decision-making by the league, more pro-women’s sports broadcast executives will help grow the game here in America. It won’t do much to grow the game within countries like Qatar or Turkey where machismo culture reigns. Even in Mexico, the support for the women’s team is more talk than action.

It is 2016. Rio is around the corner. Traditional women’s soccer powers will once again grace the fields of Brazil. The rest of the world can only watch. “For many of the world’s women, playing soccer is a distant dream,” said the Fuller Project’s Xanthe Ackerman and Christina Asquith.

The U.S. and Canada will have Rio dreams of gold, silver and bronze. The rest of CONCACAF teams can only dream. 

Another Olympics. Same old, same old dreams.


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Rio Rolls Away For El Tri Femenil

El Tri Femenil

In a matter of moments, Maribel Domínguez went from elation

to desolation

Domínguez and the rest of the Mexican women’s soccer team saw a dream end tonight. Their 2-1 loss to Costa Rica ended any hopes for the El Tri Femenil making it to Rio this summer. For Domínguez, it could mean the end of her international career.

The 37 year-old from Mexico City had it on her foot. A potential game-tying breakaway for the player nicknamed “Marigol” with moments left in regulation is all Mexico could ask for. Well, all they could ask with the players available. Sitting at home watching the proceedings this past week was perhaps Mexico’s best player: Charlyn Corral.


Corral was left off the team by longtime coach, Leonardo Cuellar, after Corral was critical of his tenure with Mexico. Cuellar has been at the helm of the Mexican team since 1998. During his time, Mexico has only made it past the group stage once in either the World Cup or Olympics. More often than not, the team has failed to qualify for the respective tournaments. Even in tournaments where his teams have had success (Gold Cup and Pan-Am Games), Mexico was never able to win any of them during his reign.

In the 2015 World Cup, Mexico could only manage a 1-1 draw with Colombia, a 2-1 loss to England and a 5-0 pasting from France. Corral was on that Mexican team that finished last in its group in Canada. Acknowledging Cuellar’s contribution to Mexican women’s soccer, Corral added afterward, “…we need new ideas”.

Corral was left off Mexico’s Pan-Am Games and Olympic qualifying rosters.

She has since retired from national team play…at age 24.


Exit Corral and enter Domínguez. Or, re-enter Marigol. A hat trick in the team’s 6-0 opening win against Puerto Rico notwithstanding, Domínguez’ return to El Tri highlights the problem with Cuellar’s tenure. Where are the young goal scorers? Where are the playmakers for Mexico? Where is the growth of the game compared to their neighbors to the north?

In a machismo culture like Mexico, it is a battle for women’s soccer. Promising young women grow their games in colleges and leagues across the United States and/or Europe. Or, they had to play like Domínguez did when she was young. As a boy.

“I tricked them for years,” Domínguez said in a 2005 interview with The Guardian. The youngest of ten, Domínguez, who learned the game from her brothers, would disguise herself with short hair to look like a boy. Eventually she was found out, but not before impressing her fellow players with her skills and estilo.

She helped propel Mexico to their first and only Olympic appearance in 2004. Although Mexico made it to the quarterfinals that year (a 5-0 loss to Brazil), Domínguez was the only Mexican to score in the entire tournament. Still, she was a star.

12 years later, Domínguez is still scoring goals for Mexico. And that is part of the problem says Pamela Del Olmo of Mexican website Talacheros. Del Olmo said on the Mexican Soccer Show, “If you have to rely on a 37 year-old to get you through a tournament, you’re doing something wrong.”


Once thought to be in the top three of the CONCACAF region, with today’s loss to Las Ticas, Mexico finds themselves dropping down in the pecking order. “Costa Rica has passed us,” said Del Olmo. Former Mexican team player, Pamela Tajonar concurred via Twitter,

Mexico’s women’s team is watching the rest of the region (and world) catch up, and in some cases, surpass them. In its current state, El Tri Femenil is failing. There is no progress forward. No action put into spoken words about growing the game. Cuellar seems to be out of answers. The demand for change or improvement falls on deaf, machismo ears.

What will it take besides cultural change? With no important competitions on the horizon now for El Tri Femenil, what now? Until Mexico places an importance on the women’s national team, they will continue to watch others like Costa Rica roll past them in the region.

Just like Domínguez’ last shot.


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