Women in soccer

Women are getting closer to their goal: gender equity. Soccer doesn’t escape this reality. Society has changed and roles too; the institutionalization of the masculine and the feminine is part of a past, still to be overcome but female participation in soccer has increased significantly.

The feminine presence in all areas is fundamental because it constitutes a different point of view from the men’s and in the differences there is enrichment.

Women are on the fields. They frequent them, visit them, explore them. The latest data from FIFA indicate that around 30 million women and girls in the world practice soccer on a regular basis, whether amateur or professional.

Women are also present behind the fences, in the stands, dressed in the color of their teams, in a gallery that is often a space full of machism.

Today, 211 federations are incorporated into FIFA and 168 of them have a women’s branch. Thus, the current challenge is the professionalization of sport more than development.

The evidence shows that a professional league allows the formation of a winning team. For example, the United States has the highest number of world titles and also a very strong national league.

What is this about? A fundamental part is the work that is done in schools, where the practice of soccer is greatly encouraged and this sport is shown to girls as a place where they can have a good time and compete in a healthy way.

But for many specialist, what benefited the progress of women’s soccer in the United States was the ‘Title IX’ law approved in 1972. Mainly, this regulation prohibits in all areas, including sports, gender discrimination in schools and colleges that receive money from public funds; so, many girls became interested in soccer

In 2016, the Mexican Football Federation launched an ambitious project: the first professional women’s league in the country. Sources close to the institution indicated that it was only a pilot project, with the fear of failure.

And the bomb exploded. Women’s division fascinated in their first tournament. Assistance in the first half of the competition, including the elimination phase, was surprising. More than three million fans came to see the players. The League went from games on the Internet and Facebook to more stable spaces, at least on pay television.

Worldwide, women’s soccer is here, has settled and does not intend to move. The road has been difficult and will continue to be in the future, but the facts invite to optimism: more funding will come, more possibilities for growth and more opportunities for all young footballers.

Why not thinking, in the future, that the stars of women’s sport will be at the same level as those of men’s sport in recognition and historical projection? They have already shown that matches and championships can be as exciting as the men’s. Therefore, there should not be any difference between men’s and women’s soccer. Women deserve this.

Say no to violence in soccer

Soccer is a contact and a very passionate sport. But these should not be synonyms of violent play ever, neither on the field nor on the stands. Best soccer is played with loyalty and with total respect towards the opponent.

Unfortunately, violence in soccer is not an isolated event but a common pattern that has developed over time. Violence in soccer originates in society itself and its behavior; a society that expresses itself in the stands with frustration, anger and aggressiveness that accumulate in their daily lives and that in no other public space is allowed, because with all logic they would be in danger of being expelled from the premises.

It worries to know that soccer represents the place where many people give free rein to their low passions, even in front of the television: insulting the referee, hating the rival team’s followers, believing that they know more than the coach himself, shouting, getting angry…

What happens to some fans with soccer? Why does violence emerge there more than in other areas?

The anonymity and support of the group in which they find themselves in the stands provides support for these aggressive behaviors. Finding themselves in the same place makes the blame and responsibility of those insults and even aggressions (bottles or objects thrown in the field) be divided equally. We feel supported by our colleagues.

But let’s think about the children. What is left of them from all this? A very bad example. It is worth remembering that adults are his mirror and sooner or later they will end up imitating their behaviors.

Parents play an important role in the practice of any sport by their children. Their role is fundamental during the celebration of the games. From their behavior they will learn many lessons. Whether they are good or bad depends on them.

The parties must be a party. We have to encourage our kids in a correct way. During games it is important to behave with education.

Violence does not lead to anything. On the court, you are not a better player if you kick more, you do not show more leadership if you shout at the referee in each divided play, you are no more rude or more intimidating if you pass it insulting to the other team.

The same thing happens in the tribune. Let’s stop confusing passion with violence. Going to the stadium to support the team is an unforgettable experience that can be done with total respect towards one and towards others.

The game does not end with the eventual victory or defeat of the opponents, but with the camaraderie and fun in a group without distinctions between those who, during the match, had been rivals.

Football must be relentless against aggression. On and off the court. Soccer is not a war. But the opposite. Football must help us stop them.

Why is it pointless to argue with the referees?

The referee is the highest authority within the field of play and, although we often disagree with him, we must accept his decisions and parents must teach their children to respect this figure.

The first ones who should set the example after the coaches are the parents. If we only preach with words and not with the example, the children are hardly going to do it. For more errors committed by judges, they do not deserve to be insulted by anyone, much less suffer any type of aggression.

At an amateur level, referees, like children, are starting their careers and they make mistakes. That’s why parents should explain to their children that they should be understanding and try to help them as much as possible.

Rules are part of the game, and without them and a person who gives them, soccer would not be possible. Parents should teach their children that things sometimes do not go as they want, but you have to get up in the face of adversity and try again.

This respect to authority, to established norms, to overcome adversity will also serve children for daily life, whether at school, in any type of association, and later in working life.

Let’s talk about the field. Discussing with the referee can physically and mentally get you out of the game. Players who are talking to the referee in an active way are not paying full attention to the game.

If they are placed on the field so that the referee can hear them, they are not thinking about their position in relation to the game that is taking place.

If the player is devoting his effort to speaking with the referee, he cannot communicate effectively with his teammates.

As a coach you have to teach young players that you have to concentrate on the game, its situation and the opportunities it presents. We must motivate the boys to always play until the whistle blows. If they fall, even if they think they have been fouled, they must recover quickly to continue playing.

It is true that on many occasions a referee can make an erroneous decision that can be fundamental for the outcome of a match, but these do not cease to be errors that happen and that are human.

Referees are on the same level as us and therefore they are learning and improving as we do ourselves every time we jump to a field.

At an amateur level, we play to become better every day. The referees also; learning and accepting the mistakes of others is an important lesson that soccer offers us and that will serve us for a lifetime.

How soccer unites families

Soccer is nothing more than a representation of society: joys and sorrows. It is, yes, a special representation. Soccer exalts the sense of belonging and community.

Happiness is always cause for celebration. Life, with its flavors and disappointments, continues. Soccer has the ability to unite that has no other human activity.

Throughout its history, this sport has become an auspicious space for the families to meet and be around the passion that this awakens in the hearts of millions of people around the world.

What moments do you have to share with your family? How much time do you have to spend with your dad, your mom, your siblings or your kids? Undoubtedly there are many spaces that we can take advantage of to live with all of them, from the most mundane, such as a lunch or a dinner, to other extraordinary ones such as a soccer match expected by all.

In the midst of a society with an accelerated pace of life, where people spend almost all their time working or studying, having spaces to share a common passion in a healthy way is fundamental for the life of each person and it is precisely that one of the great contributions that soccer can give us.

This reality leads many parents to accompany their children to play at school or in a club since they are very young, thus generating a moment where they can be accompanied, encouraged, cared for and mutually express the love they have.

Who better than dad or mom to comfort up a child frustrated by defeat? What better than to be able to share the joy and pride of a goal or victory with your children or brothers? Soccer generates all these and many other experiences that make life richer and more entertaining.

The essence of soccer is to generate bonds, joys, sharing, meeting and providing a healthy and sporting competition, which is a wealth for the culture in general, and as we have seen in a particular way it is for the family reality.

My parents divorced when I was 7 years old and my dad found himself in the predicament of entertaining his son on Sundays. There were not always children’s movies in the cinema and the third time we visited the zoo, we got tired of seeing the same lions bored to death. Soccer appeared as the perfect solution. We went to the Pumas stadium in Mexico City and I, already fascinated by this sport, asked him to also go to the ‘Estadio Azul’ on Saturdays.

For years, we shared games in the rain and sunned ourselves on boring days. I have few memories of my father in a house, I have many in a stadium.

The most surprising thing about this story is that it made me think that I had a soccer fanatic father. It was not like that. As soon as I could go on my own to the stadiums, he left the game. He had faked his passion to improve mine. Today I appreciate it. He gave me one of the great loves of my life in soccer.

Fair play in soccer

Since we have memory, we have heard mention of fair play in soccer and we have always associated it with respect and evidently, fair play on and off the courts.

Fair play is as necessary in soccer as it is in life. However, this concept goes beyond mere respect or compliance with the rules.

The main objective of the promotion of fair play is to recover the feeling of playing as a naturally satisfying and generally pleasant, honest and fun activity.

We should always play for the love of having fun and nothing else. If we win, good! If we lose, there will always be another chance.

If you want your child to practice soccer, it is important that you teach him/her what is the respect to the opponent and you yourself, as a father or mother, give him an example with your behavior.

Show your child that victory loses its value if it is not conquered in an honest way: cheating is easy, but it does not bring the satisfaction of winning by the true merits. In addition, fair play has a reward even if you do not win: you earn the respect of others, while the one who wins by cheating loses credibility before everyone.

We must play to win even when we believe we do not have opportunities: self-improvement is always necessary. Now, sometimes you win and sometimes you lose, and you have to accept it and learn to lose with a smile.

Let’s teach our kids to abide by the rules. All sports need these to guide us, so you have to understand them to better understand the game and, therefore, be better players.

Fair play is the heart of soccer and, for that reason, FIFA strives to preserve it. The demonstration has been carried out in different ways, from the raising of FIFA’s fair play flags on the fields, to the showing of videos on this subject on the giant screens of the stadiums, or the direct dissemination of the message in charge of the captains of the teams before starting the matches.

In Germany they have implemented the Fair Play Cup as a way to encourage the culture of fair play in young people. This tournament works with a scoring system, valid for the 200 teams that participate in the different categories.

The points are assigned during the conversations in the locker rooms of players, coaches and referees, according to a set of rules.

During the matches, not only the actions on the field are analyzed, but also the treatment between players and even the behavior of the spectators is evaluated. Additionally, each team must also evaluate the general impression it has of its adversary.

More recently we saw what happened at the World Cup in Russia between Japan and Senegal. At the time of defining the second place of group H, the Japanese and the Senegalese were tied in absolutely everything: points, goals in favor, goals against. What gave Japan the second place over Africans? Fair play. The Japanese had fewer yellow and red cards on the three group matches and thus qualified for the second round over Senegal,
that was a more undisciplined team.

Fair play always benefits the two opposing teams. It is such a basic idea that, without it, all competitions would degenerate into total chaos. Bearing this in mind, each soccer player should pass that message, on and off the field.

There is no doubt that soccer is a magnificent game, but to be truly beautiful, it must be played in an atmosphere of cordiality. And there, fair play is essential.

I do not earn my living by soccer, but I do live for it

Amateur soccer has absolutely nothing to envy from professional soccer. We could think that professional soccer is a thousand times better, but the reality, believe me, is another.

In professional soccer there are a lot of money, sponsors, clubs have very good facilities, stadiums, synthetic and natural grass fields, expensive uniforms, expensive shoes, expensive salaries, football players live like kings, they have cars, thousands of houses, credit cards, do commercials, have large businesses … In amateur soccer, you play solely for the love of it. And this is enough.

Sadly, the professional player sometimes plays for economic and personal interests or even fame. On the parks and on the fields of the neighborhood, you play to sweat the shirt, to have fun, to raise a cup -which has no material value and does not matter at all- together with our colleagues and friends.

But let’s be honest, how many soccer fans did not have the dream of becoming a professional and defending the shirt of our favorite team? The vast majority, of course. Since we were kids, we woke up every day with the football under our arms, thinking, eating and living one of the most beautiful sports in the world, dreaming that, someday, we could be like our idols, reach glory and be cheered by a whole stadium, winning the World Cup with a goal at the last minute.

There are very few who were able to fulfill this dream. Many failed to be professional footballers and end up forgetting that dream, but the love for the ball is never forgotten.

Some -I include myself-, we never stop being children, we never stop thinking about being part of a soccer team, we never wanted to forget about winning a cup. Those people have an option: amateur soccer.

How does it feel to be part of a small, local team? Is it so different from being professional? Not at all. Since you start to integrate an amateur team, you create a new sense of belonging, you start to be a fan again, to fight, sweat, celebrate and even cry for another sports institution or, at least, I have lived it that way.

Every weekend, I woke up early and started making my bag to go training with my friends from the team. I prepared my soccer shoes, ordered my clothes and went with a smile to forget for one or two hours that there was something more in the world than soccer. I got tired, I fell, I was frustrated and I defended the honor of a club that did not pay me millions, did not have a luxury stadium and was not part of a professional league.

In the end, that’s what we dreamed when we were young, isn’t? Doing what we love most in life, giving our best for a team, feeling how a shirt can be our second skin.

Between being professional and amateur, there is not much difference. I had all the sensations that an elite footballer can experience, I played in a full stadium and I heard people scream with joy for that goal that gave us the win. I felt the cup of champion in my hands and I saw the happiness on the faces of my friends and family.

I do not earn my living thanks to amateur soccer, but I do live for it.
While I can, I will continue trying to defend the shirt of a soccer team because it is what I love doing and I will not let labels keep me from dreaming.

How soccer is growing to become a top sport in the United States

In the United States, soccer is here to finally stay. The official designation of the World Cup for North America in 2026 is the definitive accolade to soccer, which has grown exponentially since 1994.

The United States, Mexico and Canada will jointly host the 2026 World Cup. At a time of supposed tension between these nations over the renegotiation of the NAFTA, the designation only confirms the good relationship that exists in North America.

The coexistence between the United States and Mexico can only go further, the power of Latinos in the United States can only go further and soccer in North America can only go further. At least, that’s what FIFA’s bet says.

The tournament will return to the United States (where most games will be played) 32 years after the 1994 World Cup, the year in which the US debuted as host at the World Cups and organized a very good tournament where Brazil, in the hands of Romario and Bebeto, raised his fourth cup. Today, they are five-time champions.

There was not even a professional league in 94′. But that competition was not just an anecdote, it was designed to ignite the spark of soccer in the largest market in the world. The professional league Major League Soccer (MLS) debuted two years later in the 96′.

The United States had something to celebrate for the first time when their women’s team won the 1999 World Cup and did not begin to learn that they had a soccer league until 2002, when suddenly, the men’s national team qualified for the Quarterfinals defeating neither more nor less than Mexico.

Later in that tournament, in the feet of Landon Donovan, the greatest footballer in its history, the United States fell in a very close way against the powerful Germans.

According to data from 2016, the United States is today the second country where soccer is played the most over the world, only behind China. And it has more than four million federated players, only behind Germany.

According to a report by The Economist, American television is the one that offers more hours of live soccer in the world.

In the summer of 2018, although the national team did not compete in Russia, Fox broadcasted 38 live matches and a total of 350 hours of World Cup programming. It was “the largest production of Fox Sports in its 24-year history,” announced the executive producer of the chain, David Neal.

What has really changed in soccer in the US is the passage of time. What in 1996 was a newly invented league, today begins to have a culture.

Today there is a generation of 20 or 30 years old that has grown up going to the stadium with their parents. They are no longer fans of the LA Galaxy or the Seattle Sounders because it was the only way to see soccer on Sundays; now, they’re truly fans of those teams that represent the colors of their childhood.

That base of fans is what is injecting an optimism in the MLS league that, despite the tremendous setback of staying out of the World Cup in Russia, indicates that it can only grow.

The momentum is especially significant in the cities with the largest presence of Latinos, immigrants and children of immigrants, mostly Mexicans, who bring a culture of soccer from their countries and pass it on to their children.

It is no coincidence that the two Los Angeles teams have two Mexican stars in the lead, Giovani Dos Santos in the LA Galaxy and Carlos Vela in the Los Angeles Football Club.

Little by little, MLS is gaining strength around the world. There is no lack of stars as historical players such as David Villa, Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Wayne Rooney or Bastian Schweinsteiger have decided to play here.

In addition, worldwide, the MLS is in sixth place among the most watched TV championships, only behind the leagues from Germany, England, Spain, Mexico and China.

The boom is here: soccer is the second sport among young people in the United States. At a sporting level, everything that Americans touch, they turn gold. Sooner or later, thanks to its infrastructure and its powerful market, the United States will begin to enter the elite and will be a place from which they will not move.

2026 will be the first big test. With Christian Pulisic and other young talents, the United States will seek to surpass its best mark in World Cups (Quarterfinals in 2002) and now demonstrate in soccer that they are undoubtedly the king of sports.

The captain and his role in the team as a leader

It’s one thing to be a good team player, but it’s another to be a good captain. Few will have the opportunity to have such an important role. If you are fortunate enough to become captain of your soccer team, you will have to be a leader for your teammates both on and off the field.

The most important part of being a captain is leading by example. Because you are the captain, your teammates will respect you and follow you. Regardless of the situation, your teammates have to see you work as hard as possible to win the games.

Some ways to show your effort include never giving up on a play. This is especially important if you are losing during a game. Do not let the situation determine your effort. Let your teammates know that you will always give your best effort even if you do not win the game.

On the field, you must demonstrate good sportsmanship and treat your opponents with respect. After the match is over, be sure to shake hands too.

Not only should rivals be treated with respect but also the authority. In fact, in many sports, captains are the only players who are allowed to speak with referees. Remember that the referee is in charge on the field and you cannot let his decisions affect your game.

However, do not be afraid to discuss the decisions with the referees. Just remember to do it respectfully. Asking why something was or is not a fault and explaining why you think otherwise is much better than trying to argue that the referee was wrong.

Many times, at the beginning of the matches, referees share certain rules with the captains of which the players must be aware. Be sure to share these rules with your teammates and coaches so everyone has an idea of how the officials plan to judge the game.

Another important part of leading by example is to let your teammates know that it is important to admit your mistakes. Do not make excuses when things go wrong. If you are not willing to accept responsibility, your colleagues will have no reason to do the same. It is important to always encourage others after they make a mistake and let them know that things will turn out well.

Body language matters. Do not do things like shrug your shoulders or throw your arms in the air if a teammate makes a mistake. Even without saying anything, this type of gestures communicates negative feelings and sends a bad message to your team.

As a leader, you want your teammates to know they can talk to you about the team, their performance and how the season is going. Also, invite your colleagues to talk to each other. Good communication in a team sport leads to success.

As a captain, you know that training is as important as the game. Just like in games, you have to be willing to work hard to show your teammates what is important.

While the coach is in charge of the team, he cannot be everywhere at once and is likely to need your help. If you notice that someone needs help, offer it instead of waiting for the coach to notice. If it’s time for the training to start and your coach is doing something else, organize a stretch or exercise to make sure they do something productive.

There are many types of leadership. Being a captain is not screaming for shouting. Take, for example, the case of Lionel Messi in the Argentine National Team. Messi is a silent leader. Messi does not scream, but asks for the ball. It is the same case of Andrés Iniesta. Two players who do not shout or seek to be protagonists, but play, do great things, and from there, try to lead their teams towards the objectives.

Believe me, good captains are not born; being a good leader, like any other aspect of the sport, takes time and practice. If you have been chosen or you feel ready to take this role within your team, congratulations, now you have more a responsibility than a privilege. Do it with honor and enjoy the trip.

The importance of punctuality in soccer

In soccer there is a famous saying that goes like this: “One minute late to the training and you will arrive a second late on the play.” Learn it, make it your new way of life, not only in soccer, but in daily life.

Punctuality in life means respect for the most valuable thing that others have: their time. In soccer, it means respect for you, for your teammates, for your dream, but above all, for soccer itself.

Sadly, there are always more guys who get sweeping to the training than those who do it in a timely manner. And you don’t have to be very smart to realize that getting on time to practice is a clear message to the coach that you want to play, that yesterday you rested well and that today you woke up earlier to be fit and be one of those considered for the matches.

Those who dedicate more time to their preparation will reap sweeter fruit in the future. He who dedicates time and effort to this profession will always do better.

What are the advantages of arriving earlier at training and games on weekends? Arriving in advance allows you to have the opportunity to dress calmly and to schedule your work plan and even, when you are allowed, to perform a bit of gym or arm strength before entering the field.

In professional soccer, they impose a financial penalty if you arrive late for a meeting, to a training and a much more severe penalty if you do it for a match.

I believe that punctuality is a value that represents respect not only to teamwork but to oneself. If the others could arrive on time, why could not one?

Coaches are very grateful too. Pep Guardiola said it in an interview when he was asked: “What do you value in training?” The current Manchester City Spaniard manager responded: “the main thing is the punctuality of the players and their behavior. During preparation, I usually work a lot on the technical and tactical aspect. And the longer we have together, the better this preparation will be. ”

In life as in the field, punctuality speaks a lot about the person so respect soccer and soccer will respect you, a second late on the play can mean a goal against and that error, your role as a starter, and so we can go to tell you that a simple detail like this can truncate your career and all this, for those bad habits like unpunctuality and irresponsibility.

I swear I do not lie when I tell you that when you are just getting up, the guys from the opposing team are already practicing their shots to goal.

Why should we clean up after games and take care of fields?

On Tuesday June 19, 2018, all soccer fans were surprised: Japan overwhelmingly defeated a Colombian team that was clear favorite to take first place in group H of the World Cup. And hours later, Poland, first seeded of the same group, with powerful striker Robert Lewandowski in the lead, would also be defeated by a cheerful and courageous team of Senegal.

However, the surprise is not in this couple of historical results but in what happened later. The fans of both Japan and Senegal decided to clean their respective stands before leaving the stadium making us remember that moment for ever.

And what happened days later? The Peruvians imitated what was done by the Japanese and Africans collecting the accumulated waste during the match between their national team and France despite having lost the game and thus be eliminated from the World Cup.

And this is how the world should work: copying the good.

For all the people who play soccer, the field is sacred. It’s a place to which we owe a maximum respect since it’s allowing us to develop an activity that we love. We must be grateful and take care of it.

Not only that; the playing field is a public place. We are not the owners of the field, and even if we were, it’s important to collect everything and leave it impeccable for the next people who will use it.

If we bring bottles of water to hydrate during the game or fruits to keep us energized, it’s important to collect the containers and the shells when finished. The same happens with our personal objects. When entering a backpack or any bag to a soccer field, it’s our responsibility to take it with us at the end of the game.

At a professional level, there are workers employed by the stadiums or by the clubs that perform the very worthy task of maintaining the playing field in an impeccable way so that the show is performed; but it’s at the amateur level, where we should strengthen our awareness of this act. It must be a moral obligation of ourselves to take care of the fields where we play.

And in the stands it must be the same. When entering a soccer stadium, it’s as if we were arriving at a house that is not ours and we must behave as we would in any place like when we are guests.

It cost us nothing to collect our garbage at the end of the game. It shows civility and gratitude to the people who make it possible for our children to play and have fun. Without going any further, taking care of the playing fields is the least we can do.

It’s nice to think that civics are contagious; this, already demonstrated by Japanese, Senegalese, Peruvians, Mexicans and Colombians during the World Cup. It’s our turn.