Women's Work Is on the Pitch: Latin American Soccer Players and Solidarity, 1970s–2000s

Sunday, January 5, 2020: 8:50 AM
Empire Ballroom West (Sheraton New York)
Brenda J. Elsey, Hofstra University
After one hundred years of playing soccer, Latin American women, particularly in Argentina, Brazil, Colombia, and Mexico, have organized transnationally, demanding to be treated as professionals. Since 2016 when the majority of women's national soccer teams in Latin America were relegated as "inactive" by FIFA, meaning they were essentially non-existent, players have launched sustained protest for better conditions in the sport. Women’s demands range from access to locker rooms to medical insurance to a clear accounting of how soccer federations are spending development funds. This paper will examine the implications of these protests, in historical context, and how they can help us to understand new feminist movements, women's experience as athletes, and the global landscape of professional sport. These movements built on historical relationships among women athletes of the region, while framing their understanding of feminism in new ways. The #NiUnaMenos movement has been central to opening conversations of class, racial, and heterosexual privilege among feminists. My presentation argues that new configurations of feminism in the region have profoundly shaped women athletes understanding of labor and solidarity. The patriarchs of the beautiful game are now facing a series of collective actions energized by the #NiUnaMenos movement. If successful, women players could revolutionize the most popular pastime in Latin America.