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SPORTS | 28-05-2024 10:20

‘Injustice’: Three players quit Argentina’s women’s team over conditions

Three footballers from Argentina's national women's team say they will refuse to play in two upcoming friendly matches to express dissatisfaction at the treatment they receive while representing their country.

Three footballers from Argentina's national women's team say they will refuse to play in two upcoming friendly matches to express dissatisfaction at the treatment they receive while representing their country.

Lorena Benítez, Julieta Cruz and Laurina Oliveros announced Monday that they will sit out the next two matches due to “injustice," "humiliation” and a lack of professionalism from the game's authorities.

The three female national team stars, who all play for Boca Juniors, expressed their outrage at conditions provided for national team players via social media, complaining at the withdrawal of daily allowances and the lack of appropriate nutrition provided to top athletes.

Cruz and Benítez said that they received a ham-and-cheese sandwich and a banana after training, which they consider inadequate.

"I wanted to express and share with you my reason for not playing on this FIFA [fixture] date. It was a personal decision, for various sad reasons that I have been seeing with my country's national team," wrote midfielder Lorena Benítez on Instagram.

Benítez, who at 25 has played in two World Cups, cited "not having the possibility of breakfast or lunch at the training sessions." 

She said she had learnt from football authorities that per diem payments normally received "were not going to be paid" for upcoming matches against Costa Rica (scheduled for May 31 and June 3) as the matches would be played in Buenos Aires.

Meanwhile, she wrote, their family members were being charged 5,000 pesos for match tickets if they wanted to attend and see their loved ones play.

Benitez, Cruz and Oliveros, who also play for Boca Juniors, were on the list of 23 players called up by coach German Portanova last week for the friendlies. All three are normally regular starters for the Selección.

Defender Julieta Cruz wrote on her Instagram account that "there comes a point when you get tired of the injustice, tired of not being valued, not being listened to and worse still, of being humiliated.”

"Improvements are needed in the Argentine women's national football team and I'm not just talking about the economic aspect – I'm talking about training and having lunch, breakfast, not a sandwich with a banana... I just hope that future generations don't go through this and can really enjoy being with the national team,” she said.

Goalkeeper Laurina Oliveros, also writing on Instagram, wrote: "With a broken heart and a thousand illusions that slowly fade away."

Argentina’s women's national football team is currently ranked 33rd in the FIFA global rankings, though the side was eliminated in the first round of the 2023 Women’s World Cup in Australia and New Zealand.  

Atletico Madrid's Argentine striker Estefania Banini, who retired from the national team after the World Cup, said a month ago in an interview with TyCSports that there are many players who won’t play for the national team "for non-footballing reasons.”

"We got tired of the lack of interest in the women's team, that's why we took a step aside, we thought it was the ideal step. It was not an easy decision. I speak for myself, but several players have gone through this," said Banini.

She applauded the trio’s decision to highlight the issue. “A matter of time. Thanks for being willing to speak about it,” she wrote on social media.

The Argentine Football Association (AFA), which has earned tens of millions of dollars in sponsorship and prize money for victories in international tournaments, did not comment on the players’ decisions. 

The rebellion in the women’s national team comes as players for the men’s national team meet up ahead of the Copa América tournament in the United States later this year.


– TIMES/AFP/NA

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