Argentinian twins fight for fútbol equality

By Nicole Croteau and Shannon Longworth
Medill Reports


Since before they entered elementary school, twin sisters Emilia and Delfina Zolesio Fernández Blanco have wanted to play soccer — the male-dominated, quasi-religion in their native Argentina.  At age 12, they had earned spots on a great team, playing with boys at a Buenos Aires athletic club. But other coaches and parents complained, forcing them off the field.

They fought back, and went to court to win the right to play.

Their legal battle is part of a larger one in Argentina as women aim for greater legitimacy as professional players. In 2015, the country defunded its women’s national soccer team, and it did not compete for nearly two years. Since then, the team has been resurrected and celebrated a draw in the first round of this year’s FIFA Women’s World Cup against Japan, a team heavily favored to win the match. Argentina’s women will play Scotland today in France.

In a video interview, Delfina and Emilia open up about the challenges they have faced and the discrimination they say they’ve endured throughout their time playing the game.

Now 17 years old, they discuss their futures on and off the field, and their hopes for change.

Carola Fernández Moores and Florencia Gilardon contributed reporting in Buenos Aires.

Photo at top: Emilia and Delfina Zolesio playing against a men’s club team for Club Atlético River Plate. (Nicole Croteau and Shannon Longworth/MEDILL)