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Should women be allowed to play on men's pro teams?
The issue has arisen again, this time in Mexico:
Female soccer star considers next move after FIFA rejects signing with team
December 20, 2004
MEXICO CITY (AP) - The Celaya soccer club will not appeal a ruling by FIFA rejecting its bid to hire national women's team star Maribel Dominguez.
The second-division team signed Dominguez to a two-year deal last week but soccer's governing body insisted Sunday that regulations require a clear separation between men and women players. "Mexico wanted to be a pioneer in this," Celaya vice-president Mauricio Ruiz said at a news conference Monday with Dominguez. "It wasn't achieved. Hopefully Maribel can develop her activities in another country."
Dominguez acknowledged that FIFA's decision stung, but said she would look for other opportunities, possibly in Europe, while continuing to play for the national team.
"Logically, yes it caused me some sadness, a little," said Dominguez, dressed in a Celaya cap and sweatsuit. "But at the same time too, yes, I respect decisions. If it's a 'no,' well it's a 'no.' This is not going to affect my career."
Dominguez will have a chance to face men on the field in an exhibition match on Dec. 26.
"They invited me above all to demonstrate I can play against men, and with men," she said.
News of FIFA's rejection became more than a sports controversy in Mexico.
"The maximum authority of world soccer acted against history," wrote political analyst Federico Arreola in the newspaper Milenio.
At least one woman has competed before in a men's soccer league: U.S. national team midfielder Kristine Lilly played for the Washington Warthogs in 1995 in the defunct Continental Indoor Soccer League.
Last year, the Italian club Perugia tried to recruit Swedish women's national team forwards Hanna Ljungberg and Victoria Svensson, and later German forward Birgit Prinz, but was rejected by FIFA.
At five-foot-four, Dominguez would have been outweighed by men in some cases by 65 pounds. She has been a prolific scorer on the national team with 45 goals in 46 games.
Dominguez lobbied on Monday for the creation of a professional women's league in Mexico, proposed by Chivas of Guadalajara owner Jorge Vergara.
"The possibilities are very good in all respects, including clubs interested in entering," Vergara said in a telephone interview.
The league would need a minimum of eight teams to work economically, said Vergara, who also owns the new U.S. Major League Soccer team Chivas USA, based in California.
Mexico's constitution states that men and women are equal before the law, and female Mexican athletes have overshadowed their male counterparts on the world stage in recent years. Cyclist Belem Guerrero and sprinter Ana Guevara were the public favourites of the summer Olympics in Athens, and brought home silver medals.
Golfer Lorena Ochoa, 22, also had a breakout season on the LPGA Tour.
But not all women in sports are welcomed. Female referee Virginia Tovar worked several games in the top men's soccer division earlier this year, and was demoted. Most welcomed Tovar, although she experienced some backlash.