Argentina women's soccer players understand why teammates quit amid dispute, but wish they'd stayed

Some players insisted they’ll seek improvements by working from within.

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Players on Argentina’s women’s squad on Wednesday said they understood why four teammates quit amid a dispute with the national soccer federation over pay and conditions, but insisted they’ll seek improvements by working from within.

Goalkeeper Laurina Oliveiros, defenders Julieta Cruz and Eliana Stábile and midfielder Lorena Benítez left the squad Monday ahead of two international friendlies against Costa Rica.



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They claimed the Argentinian soccer federation disrespected them and told them they wouldn’t be paid expenses for playing in the two games against Costa Rica on Friday and next week.

“We do not share the way (the four players left the squad), we all fight for the growth of women’s soccer,” striker Rocío Bueno told reporters after Argentina's practice session at the national team complex in Ezeiza, in the outskirts of Buenos Aires. “I support everything they ask for, but we had to be together and make a joint decision to show up or not show up.”

The four players complained about the post-practice food -- a ham and cheese sandwich plus a banana — and criticized the Argentinian federation for not paying expenses related to the two friendlies against Costa Rica because the games are being played in Buenos Aires.

Yamila Rodríguez, a striker for Brazil's Palmeiras, said her national teammates’ decision was due to “a moment of anger, of rage that they experienced internally.”

“I talked about it with them, they understood me, I understood them. We are not against them. We are all teammates," she said. “But I think they didn’t wait for the (right) moment to speak.”

Bueno and Rodríguez said the squad members met Argentinian soccer executives on Monday to express their concerns.

Argentina's women's soccer turned professional in 2019 after a strike led by national team players. Still, there's been little improvement in pay and conditions.

“It's a sad situation,” coach Germán Portanova told the soccer federation's social media channel on Tuesday. “I told them that I respect the decision. I understand it, but we believe that the way to do it is different. With dialogue and being inside we can continue to grow women’s soccer.”

Hayes became the 10th full-time head coach for the U.S. Women’s National Team after leading the Chelsea FC Women for the last 11 seasons.
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