Colombian authorities announced on Friday that they were investigating clubs suspected of having tried to torpedo the women's football league, in a country where players face machismo and a lack of support.
The General Inspectorate of Industry and Commerce (SIC) is investigating alleged practices within Dimayor - which manages, under the authority of the Colombian Football Federation, professional clubs - and 29 teams, which allegedly offered low salaries for players and refusal to receive subsidies intended for the women's championship.
These clubs and Dimayor “would not have agreed to receive the public money that the government offered to promote women's football in our country,” declared Francisco Melo, in charge of free competition within the SIC, during a press conference.
According to him, this refusal to receive these subsidies would be motivated by the fact that the clubs did not wish to see the use of these funds audited and controlled by the authorities.
Still according to Mr. Melo, the clubs would have systematized a practice aimed at preventing players from exploiting their image rights, and would have done nothing to promote the broadcast of the women's league on television.
“These facts could hinder the development of women’s football in Colombia,” he added.
Dimayor president Fernando Jaramillo assured that his organization respects the proper conduct of the investigation, although he denied the accusations.
“We will use all legal measures and means at our disposal to prove them wrong,” he assured the media.
Since the creation of the Colombian women's league in 2017, players have claimed that their contracts are not truly professional due to the short duration of the tournament and contract conditions.
The competition only lasts five months, and many footballers have to find other jobs to survive the rest of the year.
Despite everything, women's football has more and more fans in Colombia. In 2023, the national team, with stars like Leicy Santos and Linda Caicedo, qualified for the quarterfinals of a World Cup for the first time.
After that performance, left-wing President Gustavo Petro offered around $1.9 million to support next year's championship, but Colombian football leaders say the money is not enough to cover all expenses .