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Chile’s Football Federation Criticized for Handling of Star Player’s 100th Appearance

The Chilean football federation (ANFP) has been criticized for its handling of a star player’s 100th appearance for the women’s national team.

Christiane Endler is widely regarded as one of the greatest footballers, male or female, Chile has ever produced.

On Tuesday, Endler, the team’s captain and goalkeeper, made history by becoming the first player to reach 100 caps for the Chile women’s national team in a 2-1 victory over New Zealand.

However, the ANFP asked for the friendly match, the second against New Zealand in the space of four days, to be played behind closed doors. It also wasn’t broadcast anywhere, meaning fans in the country weren’t able to witness this landmark moment for one of Chile’s most successful athletes.

“Endler must be valued, she deserves a tribute worthy of the athlete she is and has been for the country,” her agent Edgar Merino told radio show Prenzafútbol. “[ANFP president] Pablo Milad and company should have planned and managed the situation better, she should have played her 100th match with fans.

“Although the ANFP had to hire more staff and open a stadium to honor her, they must understand that women’s football is here to stay, not for leaders to see and treat as a younger brother in the family.”

Milad had earlier explained that the ANFP decided to hold the match behind closed doors because they didn’t expect many fans to turn up due to it being against the same opposition, on a weekday and the difficulty they had selling tickets for the first friendly on Saturday.

“I spoke with Tiane [Endler], I told her that we are going to prepare a party for her in the next game, which she deserves, for everything she has given us as a player and also being an ambassador of our sport around the world,” Milad told Chile’s Sports Commission, per La Tercera.

“She deserves a spectacle with a lot of people, with a unique match, and to be at the weekend so the greatest number of people can attend.”

After years of dedication and professionalism, all Endler received on the day was a graphic posted on social media an hour after the final whistle.

“Behind closed doors, without fans and without broadcast. One more for you guys,” Chile national team player Daniela Pardo replied to the graphic on Instagram.

“It’s a disgrace her 100th game was behind CLOSED DOORS,” another Instagram user wrote. “They (ANFP) can’t do anything right.”

CNN has reached out to the ANFP and Endler’s representatives for comment.

Seven years ago, Claudio Bravo, the Chile men’s captain and goalkeeper, became the first man to reach 100 caps for the South American nation. His achievement was marked at a packed Estadio Nacional ahead of Chile’s World Cup qualifier against Argentina, as he was gifted a framed jersey with the number 100 printed on the front.

Endler hasn’t publicly commented on the way her historic achievement was treated, though the 32-year-old did detail her unhappiness with the organisation of the first of Chile’s two friendly matches against New Zealand, which was played in front of fans at Santiago’s La Florida stadium on Saturday.

Jun 16, 2019; Paris, FRANCE; Chile goalkeeper Christiane Endler (1) makes a save against the the United States in group stage play during the FIFA Women's World Cup France 2019 at Parc des Princes. Mandatory Credit: Michael Chow-USA TODAY Sports

“Even though there were a lot of people in La Florida, the stadium did not open completely and tickets were sold at the last minute,” she said, according to Radio ADN. “I think there is still a lack of management. 

“With a little more anticipation and publicity that we were going to play against a great team like New Zealand, the stadium would have easily been filled. With better management we could achieve bigger things.”

Endler added in an Instagram post that she was “proud” to reach 100 appearances for Chile. “I hope there are many more,” she added.

Endler has long been considered one of the world’s top goalkeepers, finishing in the top three of the Best FIFA Women’s Goalkeeper award in each of the last four years and winning the top honor in 2021.

She began to earn global recognition in 2017 after moving to Paris Saint-Germain, where in 2021 she helped the club end Lyon’s 14-year stranglehold on the French league title, winning the first in PSG’s history and conceding just four goals all season.

Since moving to Lyon shortly afterwards, Endler has won a further two league titles and the Champions League in 2022, making her the first Chilean woman to lift the trophy.

That she has been able to achieve so much is remarkable, coming from a country whose federation has sometimes overlooked its women’s national team.

Such was the neglect of women’s football in the country, by 2016 Chile had been removed entirely from FIFA’s world rankings for being “inactive.”

Things improved as Chile hosted the 2018 Copa America Femenina and qualified for the Women’s World Cup for the first time at France 2019, but since then conditions have once again regressed.

The national team failed to qualify for the 2023 World Cup after losing in a playoff to Haiti, a league match was recently suspended due to there being no ambulance present, and earlier this week global players’ union FIFPro revealed that Chile’s Ministry of Labour fined 25 professional women’s clubs, or around 70% of all professional women’s football clubs in the country, for violating health and safety regulations.

FIFPro said the violations included a lack of work clothes and hygiene services, neglecting to pay social security contributions and a failure “to eliminate workplace risk factors, such a not having showers.

In April 2022, Chilean President Gabriel Boric enacted a law that professionalized women’s football in the country, requiring clubs to hire all of their players to professional contracts within three years, starting with half of the squad within the first year.

“It is deeply concerning that some clubs are still not in compliance with the requirement to hire at least 50% of their players in this first year,” Camila Garcia, FIFPRO Vice President and founder of Chilean women’s players association ANJUFF, said.

“But what is truly unacceptable is that clubs are not adhering to minimum standards for female players to perform their duties as workers.”

Source : CNN