FIFA brings global perspective to CONMEBOL Women’s Football Club Seminar

  • Much-anticipated event took place in Montevideo on Sunday

  • Held to coincide with the 2021 Copa Libertadores Femenina final

  • FIFA highlighted CONMEBOL’s pioneering efforts in women’s club licensing

FIFA brought a global perspective to the CONMEBOL Women’s Football Club Seminar that took place in Montevideo on Sunday 21 November, at an event that drew together football representatives from across South America. Among those in attendance were Alejandro Dominguez, FIFA Vice-President and CONMEBOL President, and Beatriz Argimon, Uruguayan Vice-President. The gathering was part of a series of events organised by CONMEBOL in the run-up to the final of the 2021 Copa Libertadores Femenina, which was staged at the city’s Estadio Gran Parque Central, where Brazilian side Corinthians were crowned South American champions. “Thank you for inviting us to participate in this seminar ahead of the Libertadores Femenina final,” said Sarai Bareman, FIFA Chief Women’s Football Officer, in her virtual welcome speech. “In the men’s equivalent tournament, the winning team will be guaranteed a place at the FIFA Club World Cup, which will be held in Abu Dhabi in early 2022,” she noted. “Perhaps one day, a similar, truly global women’s competition can be part of the football calendar. This is necessary because the club game is crucial for the growth of women’s football. Tournaments are essential drivers for its development.”

CONMEBOL’s Women’s Football Club Seminar, which will take place on 21 November

Stressing the importance of the FIFA Benchmarking Report on Women’s Football, which was published in May of this year, she added: “It presented, to the global community, several perspectives on the potential we have for strong growth.” Following Bareman’s remarks, David Peradalta, FIFA Senior Professionalisation Manager for Women’s Football Development, and Andres Portabella, FIFA Women’s Football and Professional Football Advisor, took to the stage at the ‘Embajada del Hincha’ (Fan Embassy) in Montevideo. Portabella began by praising the development and execution of the Copa Libertadores Femenina, drawing comparisons with other club tournaments organised by confederations, such as the 20-year-old UEFA Women’s Champions League and the burgeoning continental club competitions run by CAF and the AFC. He then highlighted the trailblazing role CONMEBOL has been playing with regard to club licensing, in both women’s and men’s football, stressing the fact that, in order to take part in this year’s Copa Libertadores Femenina, clubs had to – for the first time – go through a license application process.

Peradalta, like Bareman, emphasised the importance of the FIFA Benchmarking Report on Women’s Football, as well as the Transfer Matching System. Both tools, he said, “help to resolve the lack of data, to better understand each situation and to make more impactful decisions.” Emilio Garcia Silvero, FIFA Chief Legal and Compliance Officer, also participated in the seminar. Via videolink, he praised the general development of women’s football over the past decade, and commended CONMEBOL for its work on professionalising the sport. He did, however, also strike a cautionary note. “This progress must be accompanied by an appropriate regulatory framework that protects the players and provides women’s football with the best possible platform, guaranteeing its sustainability and fulfilling the long-term professional expectations of its players,” he remarked. In that respect, he explained the latest adjustments to the FIFA Regulations on the Status and Transfer of Players, adopted at the end of 2020 and in effect since July of this year, related to footballers’ maternity. These are based on four core principles: registration periods, pregnancy protection and compulsory remuneration, return to work and protection from contract termination. “Under no circumstances may female footballers be subject to discrimination due to their status as mothers or mothers-to be. We know that this does not solve everything when it comes to women’s employment contracts, but it is still an important first step at international level,” said Garcia Silvero, who applauded the work done by the Argentinian Football Association in the domain of worker’s rights.

Monserrat Jimenez, CONMEBOL's Legal Director and Deputy General Secretary, introduced the women's football vision for South America. Argentina’s efforts on labour regulations were discussed later in the seminar, as were those made by the Paraguayan and Uruguayan Football Association, which have succeeded in acquiring a high-profile sponsor for its national women’s league, and by Corinthians, whose management of the marketing of the women’s team and players was presented as a shining example in the region. Corinthians would later secure their second Copa Libertadores Femenina title in three years, after defeating Colombia’s Independiente Santa Fe 2-0 in the final. The earlier stages of the tournament had taken place in Asuncion (Paraguay) from 3-18 November, with CONMEBOL moving the showpiece match to Montevideo to line it up with the men’s Copa Sudamericana and Copa Libertadores finals. The seminar represented just one instalment of a range of activities arranged by CONMEBOL at the Fan Embassy, which included, among others, question-and-answer sessions with Brazil’s Swedish coach Pia Sundhage, Rosario Central coach Roxana Vallejos, and Atletico Paranaense coach Rosana Augusta, as well as Fabimar Franchi, CONMEBOL’s Head of Sustainability and Women’s Football Development, and America de Cali forward Catalina Usme.