Yesterday, the manager of Mexico’s national women’s team released his roster for next week’s CONCACAF Women’s Olympic Qualifying championship. It reads as follows:
Notice any player omission in particular? Yep, you guessed it: Charlyn Corral – the leading goal scorer in Spain’s Primera División – was not included among the 21 players slated to compete for a spot at Rio 2016. This is a BIG deal. If you can’t sense the seriousness of my words, imagine me sitting at my desk, angrily grinding my teeth, wanting nothing more than to scream at someone within close proximity.
I’d be remiss not to mention Corral’s comments following Mexico’s disastrous display at the 2015 World Cup, where they finished last in Group F with two losses and a 1-1 draw against Colombia. “I believe that Cuéllar has done a lot for the program, but we need new ideas,” she said at the time. “I don’t [speak out] for me, I do it for Mexico and the growth of women’s football. We need more competition, more players in order to advance.” Cuéllar has been at the helm of the Mexican women’s national team since 1988 – almost three whole decades. They have qualified for the World Cup on three occasions during that time (1999, 2011, and 2015), but boast a woeful six-loss, three-tie record in nine all-time WC matches.
“I am a person who says it like it is,” Corral went on. “They often do not like it when we talk. As a player I accept my mistake, but there are things that stand above the rest that leaders can manage differently. It is a shame knowing that I can’t express myself and that we do not have a say in the matter.” Powerful and important words from an amazing futbolista, ones that undoubtedly played prominently into Cuéllar’s decision to exclude her from his squad.
“She has been considered,” the coach said upon the roster’s release. “She has been among the 35 eligible players and we have followed her participation in the Spanish league. I want to clarify that there was no negligence on the administrative end. My decision was based on what I tried in China and upon seeing a team with personality – applied and committed – I decided to take the players that I have had day to day, respecting the quality of those who are not here.”
In reality, Cuéllar’s decision seems to stand in striking contrast to his reported regard for Corral and her compatriots playing abroad (Kenti Robles and Pamela Tajonar were also left out). It’s strange, especially for a man who has lamented his players’ forced inactivity in the buildup to Olympic action as a “big disadvantage” (Corral, Robles, and Tajonar are some of the only women competing on a regular basis).
Upon hearing the news of the Federación Mexicana de Fútbol’s decision to halt player subsidies for Mexican internationals playing abroad in the National Women’s Soccer League, we wrote that Europe might just be the best bet for Mexican stars. But now, it appears as though you can’t even go there, kick ass, and return to compete for your country if you choose to speak the truth.
As it stands, the women’s program is not supported by the same funding as the men’s team (despite plentiful resources), and if it wasn’t for the incredible bravery and courage of women like Corral, we may never see the change we so desire. It makes this news all the more devastating.
Corral responded to the situation on Twitter last night:
Fortunately, there was a flood of positive posts in response to her declarations. “Estamos contigo, Charlyn,” “#FuerzaCharlyn,” “Mucho ánimo,” “Agradecemos tu valentía.” Idol, legend, “ante todo la verdad por delante.” It’s up to us to make sure this news causes the uproar that it rightfully merits.