Being a first-division soccer player in Argentina is an activity that involves a lot of effort and sacrifice. However, the working conditions and salaries in the vast majority of cases are not equated with the action that is put into the task. In fact, the remuneration generally does not cover a basic basket.
In Argentina, women’s football in the first division has been semi-professional since March 2019. This means that, according to current regulations, each team must have at least 12 players under contract. However, the salary amounts that are managed are low and there are big clubs that can sign links with all the players on their squad, while others only maintain the minimum required by AFA, thus deepening the gaps.
The basic contract that the players have in the Argentine clubs of the highest category is the same that the men receive in the First C (the men’s fourth division). The salary is 37,800 pesos gross, that is, just over 30 thousand in hand (to date, about 130 dollars). In a country in which the total basic basket amounts to almost 33 thousand pesos, according to the latest INDEC measurement, it is clear that the amount is not enough to cover all the expenses that a person has in the month.
It is true that there are clubs that can pay higher figures, above the minimum, and they do so to secure the best players and, in some cases, to prevent them from going abroad. In addition, there are a few teams that pay prizes for points achieved, matches won or titles achieved. However, it is a very tiny percentage of the general universe.
Something that some of the players consulted by TN value is the fact that the clubs pay in a timely manner, something that does not happen in all institutions. When what is agreed is not fulfilled, it is another factor that also conspires against the economy of the athletes.
In some teams, even at the beginning of semi-professionalization, the players made a common pool. What did it imply? The money from the mandatory contracts stipulated at that time was collected and then that amount was divided equally among all the members of the campus. In this way, each one could take at least a kind of per diem to support her sports practice.
Being a professional soccer player and being in high performance means complying with daily training, eating well, and resting properly, among other issues. The big question is how you can sustain a high level of competition when, in addition, you have to have another job -often full-time- to survive.
River and Boca make an exception by having their entire squad professionalized (Photo: River Press)
“With our salary, there is no chance to live on this. Many of us have to work and fly back to training , we don’t arrive with the schedules, and we have to accommodate a lot of things. I wish we could live off this,” the player from a large team in Argentina who has a contract and who charges the minimum agreement told TN.
Indirect salary: per diems, meals, apartments, and scholarships
Currently, according to the AFA Strategic Plan 2021-2026 for women’s football, clubs must have a minimum of 12 players under contract. As of 2023, there should be 15. The campuses, of course, have a much larger number of members.
“ The length of the contracts is not a minor thing because it marks a question of stability. The vast majority of contracts in women’s soccer in Argentina are made for one year and that for adults is like a sword of Damocles because it does not allow stability or tranquility, “explained Julián Scher, sports manager of women’s soccer at Racing, the club who in recent times made the decision to sign more extensive ties, such as the cases of the defender Luana Muñoz or the striker Rocío Bueno, both until December 2023.
Many soccer players who do not sign ties with the institutions they represent receive a kind of per diem that has a much lower value than the salary of the agreement but that allows them to at least pay for the transfers and some of the food.
Another point that is part of the negotiations between the players and the clubs is the issue of housing. Most institutions offer shared apartments for those soccer players who come from other cities or countries.
There are also other forms of “indirect salary” such as daily transportation to training or the provision of food or snacks. In addition, there are teams that offer prepaid medical coverage and student scholarships so that the players can finish or continue their studies.
The consequences of these disparities with respect to men’s football
In his article entitled “Professionalization of women’s football in Argentina. Conquest of rights and apparent equality” (published by the Gioja Institute of the Faculty of Law of the UBA), the feminist lawyer Melisa García maintains that by earning the same amount for a first division player as for a First C player “she settles manifests and in writing an inequality, a salary gap, and a disqualification of the professional player.
“But being professionals requires them to perform exactly the same as a cis male soccer player, in terms of hours of training and matches,” he explains.
In dialogue with TN, García added: “The professional dedication required of the player is subject to the fact that she is paid as a First C male, that means that she necessarily has to work in another type of activity other than sports in order to survive. and survive. There is a matter of dedication and even performance that is obviously going to be affected”.
There is a widespread misconception that female players demand to be paid the same as their top division male colleagues. Regarding this belief, the founder of Abofem Argentina clarified: “For men’s soccer to have the arrival it has and for that player to become not only that talent but that product, there is an economic investment of sports brands and also everything type of visibility on and off the field. That is not what happens with the feminine”.
“We are not going to be able to compare any first division men’s player with the women’s players since they already have a huge salary difference, beyond the added value that each player can have a different income based on agreements or negotiations. with your club. The reality is that female players are still fighting for their basic rights: many times the conditions in which they play or train are far below what corresponds. The truth is that there is still much that is hidden behind the idea that they are going to be the same once they generate the same thing”, stated García, making it clear that demanding female soccer players to have the same performance as their male colleagues sound utopian if one takes into account that working conditions are still far from being similar and that there are many steps to be taken in the feminine sector to improve the situation.