Women’s Soccer in Costa Rica

Costa Rica was one of the first countries in Latin America to launch women’s soccer. The first references to women’s soccer in the country date back to the 1920s. In mid-January 1924, Club Sport La Libertad established its Liga Feminista Deportiva.

However, it was not until March 19th, 1949 that women’s soccer was formalized when brothers Emilio and Fernando Bonilla founded Deportivo Femenino Costa Rica, which remained in force in the country and toured abroad until 1963. The first official game in our country was on March 26th, 1950, with two Deportivo Femenino Costa Rica F.C. teams.

Later, between 1980 and 2000, the first national tournaments were organized.

In April 1989, the Women’s Soccer Sports Association (Adefufe) was created as part of the organization promoted by Mr. Franklin Monestel Vicenzi in the National Amateur Soccer Association (Anafa).

At the end of 1999, the Women’s Soccer League Sports Association (Adeliffe) was created, which later in 2008 changed to its current name, the Women’s Soccer Union (Uniffut), presided over by the leader Victor Hugo Alfaro and registered with the Costa Rican Institute of Sports and Recreation (Icoder) and the Costa Rican Soccer Federation (Fedefútbol), endorsed by the North, Central American and Caribbean Soccer Confederation (Concacaf) and the International Federation of Association Football (FIFA).

Current Challenges Facing Women’s Soccer in Costa Rica

No salary

Female players receive no salary, only per diems, unlike their male counterparts.

Limited and Dependent Budget

Uniffut receives money from the Costa Rican Soccer Federation for the participation of the senior men’s national team in the different World Cups, since it is the only one that provides support for all soccer. If the men’s national team misses a tournament, it is detrimental to all the leagues.

The support they provide depends on the participation of the men’s national team. Thus, in the Brazil 2014 World Cup, when the men’s national team reached the quarterfinals, the league received between US$250,000 and US$300,000, while in Russia 2018, the national team remained in the group stage, for which they received approximately US$200,000.

Gustavo Araya, secretary general of Fedefutbol, points out that the Federation has a budget of approximately US$10 million, of which just over US$1 million is allocated to women’s soccer.

Sexism and discrimination – But the most important scourge that female players have to face is sexism and inequality. To counteract this, the GOLEES Foundation launched this campaign “Change starts on the court“: https://www.facebook.com/watch/?v=1291334674603329&ref=sharing

The campaign involves more than 100 women players from the first division, who emphasize that gender equality is still not a reality.

Considered “Amateurs” – The players, for all their achievements, are not yet considered professional soccer players. However, by the end of 2022 that could change, driven by the growing interest in this league.

Gustavo Araya points out that they are looking to professionalize the women’s league after the 2022 U-20 Women’s World Cup to be held in Costa Rica.

Costa Rica women’s national soccer team -photo: Fedefutbol

The U-20 Team

Costa Rica’s new U-20 Women’s generation has a trajectory since the U-15 category, which had its first international competition in August 2016 at the Sport World Wide ESPN (United States). In that competition it achieved fourth place out of 26 participating teams, under the technical direction of Amelia Valverde. A year later, the national team participated in U-17. It won the UNCAF qualifier in Chité, Panama, and thus earned a pass to the CONCACAF Pre-World Cup in Managua 2018.

For this CONCACAF qualifier, Harold Lopez took over as technical director, with a view to starting the process that is now the U-20 National Team that will compete in the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Costa Rica.

Under this U-20 category, the national team managed to win the UNCAF tournament in Guatemala in November of the previous year undefeated and thus earned a ticket to the 2020 CONCACAF Pre-World Cup in the Dominican Republic (in which it did not participate due to Costa Rica’s hosting of the World Cup).

Today, under the technical direction of José Catoya, the Costa Rican national team has outstanding players and it is they who will represent Costa Rica at the U-20 World Cup, which will be held in Costa Rica.

Author: M. Barrantes for Sensorial Sunsets