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Soccer is often considered to be on par with God and family in Mexico. Yet for decades, it has been relegated to the realm of boys and men. Girls and women who wanted to play soccer faced an uphill, if not impossible, struggle for acceptance. It was a big deal, therefore, when Mexico began a women’s professional soccer league for the first time last year. All of a sudden, girls could envision a future where they played soccer for a living. And the league had symbolic importance beyond the realm of sports: it was a step toward gender equality in a country where machismo is still commonplace.

All the same, it was unclear whether the women’s league would actually survive. On its inaugural weekend, coverage of the games was buried deep in the sports pages–somewhere between pictures of women in bikinis and gossip about which models the male soccer players were dating. And the women players were making pennies compared to the male soccer players—even the best female players were earning just $500 a month, while male players made millions. With these contradictions in mind, Latino USA set out to follow one of the women’s soccer teams to get an inside view into the league and the players.

Featured image of a Mexican woman professional soccer player by Emily Green

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