Liga MX Femenil is Mexico’s professional women’s soccer league. The league was announced in 2016 and officially kicked off with the Copa MX Femenil in May of 2017 with 12 teams participating. The league expanded to 16 teams for the first season in July 2017 and Puebla and Lobos BUAP rounded out the 18 in 2018.
Each club in Liga MX currently has a Femenil side, and the season runs roughly during the same time frame as Liga MX, being split into an Apertura which runs August through November, and Clausura which runs January through May. Play is suspended during international breaks.
Where their Varonil (men’s) counterparts all are in the same table and play each other once a season, Liga MX Femenil is broken into two groups of nine and teams from different groups do not play one another. Teams within each group play each other four times a season (twice at home and twice away) and each team has two bye weeks during the season. There are also the occasional doble jornadas - weeks where a team will play two matches.
Roster rules and players you might know already
Liga MX Femenil also has roster rules that are different from Liga MX - and most other leagues in the world. All players in Liga MX Femenil must be Mexican born. Mexican-Americans are not eligible to play in the league if they were born in the United States, and this has caused criticism - especially when the rule was announced weeks prior to the inaugural season, which left some clubs in the lurch trying to find players to fill out their rosters and some players out of a job. There have been rumors that the league will look to soften its stance on this; however, there hasn’t been anything concrete offered by the league or its clubs.
There are some familiar faces however for fans of soccer in the United States. Monica Ocampo played for the Atlanta Beat and Sky Blue FC before heading back to Mexico to play with Pachuca. Cecelia Santiago of Club América spent time with the Boston Breakers and FC Kansas City, and Dinora Garza of Monterrey spent a season with the Chicago Red Stars. Several players also attended college in the United States and played there before returning home.
Liga MX Femenil rules also dictate that no more than two players born after 1/1/1995 can be on the pitch at the same time. This is also meant to help Mexico develop young talent, and often players as young as 15 will feature for the clubs. This has already helped Mexico’s stature in women’s soccer improve in part, as the U17s were runners-up to Spain in the U17 World Cup in Uruguay.
It’s important to note that some clubs use the feminine form of their name (Monterrey’s Varonil team is Rayados, while the Femenil team is Rayadas), and some eschew that (Tijuana isn’t Xolas, rather always Tijuana Femenil or Xolos Femenil).
Some - but not all - teams play in the same stadium that the Varonil team plays in while others opt for smaller venues. Often times playing in the larger stadiums will give an appearance of it being empty. Normal crowds range from 1,500-3,000, however for big rivalry matches it can be as much as 35,000. The world record for attendance at a professional women’s soccer match was broken recently by a Clásico Regiomontana match between Rayadas and Tigres Femenil that saw 51,000 in attendance for the Liga MX Femenil Final between the cross-town rivals in May of 2018.
Liga MX Varonil matches are notorious for a certain chant during goal kicks. It is not normal to hear this during Liga MX Femenil play (author’s note: I can remember hearing it once or twice during the first season but not since).
Following from abroad
All teams except one have a twitter account specifically for the Femenil team. UNAM Pumas sees no difference between the Femenil and Varonil teams and posts as much Femenil content as other femenil-specific accounts from their @PumasMX account. Some teams are very good at posting content, others only post once or twice a week. The @LigaMXFemenil account often posts match updates, graphics, and clips of games.
The big downside to this is geoblocking. Because the league often utilizes clips from Mexican television providers such as TDN (Televisa Deportes Network) and FOX Sports MX in their tweets, the clips are geoblocked to only show in Mexico. Occasionally clips will evade geoblocking, especially if the clubs themselves are producing the content. The good news is that clips are available for download on the Liga MX Femenil website and are not geoblocked.
Veracruz and Chivas have their own streaming services (Tibuvisión and Chivas TV, respectively) that you can subscribe to and see the home Femenil games as well as Varonil games and some original content. Tigres UANL streams almost all of their home games live on their Twitter account.
Univision Deportes is the only network in the United States to broadcast Liga MX Femenil matches, usually showing one or two a week. The games are all broadcast inside of Mexico, and hopefully it will just be a matter of time before all games are shown in some capacity in the US.
There are a few English-language people who cover Liga MX Femenil, and while I am positive I am unintentionally forgetting some, they are out there. Amelia Lopez and Adriana Terrazas do Our Futbol podcast for Fut Mex Nation, which covers both Liga MX Femenil as well as Liga MX Varonil and Mexicans abroad. The Xolos Podcast by Francisco Velasco and Cesar Hernandez always start the show by talking about Xolos Femenil, and The Eagle Eye Podcast covers Club América Femenil as well as the Varonil side. Paradero Boys blog about Atlas Femenil as well as the Varonil side and are based in Guadalajara. There are also some unofficial accounts that follow and talk about teams such as Chivas Femenil English and Rayados 90.
Eugene Rupinski writes about Liga MX Femenil and Liga MX for FMF State of Mind.