Wednesday 07 June 2023, 03:00

Women’s club licensing regulations fortify development of professionalism in Argentina

  • The Argentinian FA’s national regulations entered into effect in late 2021

  • FIFA cooperated at the drafting stage through the Women’s Development Programme

  • AFA Women’s Club Licensing Manager Carmina Aztarbe: “The licences help support and organise the growth of the sport”

    March marked four years since the Argentinian Football Association announced that women’s football would be turning professional. Since then, the discipline has shown steady growth, and a number of important milestones have been reached along the way.

    One such milestone arose towards the end of 2021 when, with the backing of the FIFA Women’s Development Programme, the AFA unveiled its first-ever Women’s Football Club Licensing Regulations, and made adherence of this set of rules a necessary condition for clubs to compete in the Primera Division.

    “After professionalisation, the regulations were one of the tools we needed to support clubs that were starting to grow in a domain that seemed on the verge of really taking off, and that had so much potential,” Carmina Aztarbe, the AFA’s Women’s Club Licensing Manager, told

Carmina Aztarbe pose for a photo at Mendoza Stadium on May 27, 2023

The 34-year-old football enthusiast continued: “The process began during the pandemic, when Javier Vijande Penas, the AFA’s Club Licensing Manager, asked me to join the project. From that point on, we were able to count on the support of FIFA, which helped us to organise two seminars with the clubs. The first one we held was virtual and the second one, in November 2021, when we presented the regulations, was in-person. That turned out to be highly significant.

“The first licence that was granted was something of a pilot project, so that we could all familiarise ourselves with the system, and so that the clubs could understand what it was all about and what the working dynamic was like. We weren’t too strict about it as it was so new, and clubs had to deal with filling out forms and documentation for the first time. And so it seemed like the most sensible thing to do.

“Starting out, we made sure we were all on the same page so that the clubs would understand that the licence was not about control, but about support, to help them create a more formal, defined and stable structure, and designed to offer guidance as they grow and develop.”

We made sure we were all on the same page so that the clubs would understand the licence was not about control, but about support. Designed to offer guidance as they grow and develop.

Aztarbe was also keen to emphasise another aspect that the AFA regarded as vital. “We had to analyse the differences between Primera Division clubs: some are larger, with more facilities, history and human resources, while others are more modest. Part of our work involved understanding these differences and adapting to support the growth of the more modest ones, which takes a longer period of time, despite the fact that some of them have already won trophies.”

Arijana Demirovic, FIFA's Head of Women's Football Development, was full of praise for the progress made thus far. “FIFA is proud of the work done by the AFA, using our development programme to implement their women’s club licensing system properly,” she said. “The support it has provided to the clubs, via Carmina Aztarbe, is the key to the long-term success of the system.”

A grateful Aztarbe made a point of stressing that, in addition to supplying the clubs with adidas balls and apparel, as well as its comprehensive Guide to Club Licensing in Women’s Football, FIFA encourages each FA to bear in mind its own distinctive features when discussing the content of the regulations.

“Our regulations are based on the FIFA and CONMEBOL ones, with one difference – on top of the sporting, administrative, legal, infrastructure-related and financial criteria, we have added a gender equality criterion,” she explained.

But what does that mean exactly? “Clubs have to present a protocol setting forth action to be taken in the event of violence or discrimination,” she said. “This way, we wanted to give context to the changes that are happening – in relation to the role of women in the country – not only in football but in society as a whole. This was very well received by everyone.”

In fact, the reaction to all parts of the regulations has been overwhelmingly positive, according to Aztarbe. “We were pleasantly surprised by the extent to which the clubs got involved, how they became interested in turning professional, or how they took an interest in issues they had previously overlooked.”

Carmina Aztarbe (AFA) at work  during the FIFA U20 World Cup Argentina 2023

After being part of the Local Organising Committee for the FIFA U-20 World Cup Argentina 2023™in Mendoza, and aware of the significant impact La Albiceleste’s participation in the FIFA Women’s World Cup Australia & New Zealand 2023 will likely have, Aztarbe laid out the subsequent steps to be taken.

“Before the annual licence renewal in September, we’d like to pay a visit to the 20 clubs that play in the Primera Division,” she explained. “It’s something that we’ve been holding off on for various reasons, and we think it’s key at this stage. Organising these visits, being able to dispel doubts face-to-face, getting more involved with the structure of the clubs, their history and their needs, will help us to keep making progress, as we’ve been doing up to now.”

The Argentinian league is featured in Setting the Pace, FIFA’s benchmarking report that provided a comprehensive analysis of the elite women’s football landscape globally in October 2022.

The AFA also published its club report, which includes data on men’s and women’s football: ANNUAL CLUB REPORT | AFA – FIFA 2022