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Las Aztecas: Gender, Nationalism, and Sport in Mexico and the World in the Early 1970s

Madelina M Homberger Cordia, University of Nebraska - Lincoln


In 1970, a Mexican women’s national fútbol (soccer) team participated in the first-ever women’s World Cup, held in Italy. Organized by private business interests, Mexico competed as the sole representative from outside of Europe. The Mexican media and State officials, such as Mexico City regent Alfonso Corona del Rosal, used this opportunity to frame the team’s travel abroad as defending not only the honor of the Mexican nation, but the entire Western Hemisphere against more developed and wealthier European teams. The following year, in 1971, Mexico hosted the second women’s World Cup and, in the same way that the State sought to use mega-sporting events like the 1968 Olympics and the 1970 FIFA World Cup to construct and project a positive national image outward for an international audience, so was the case with the 1971 event. In a nation with authoritarian one-party rule, the relationship between the media and the State was close, with most media outlets printing officially approved content and self-censoring critiques. This dissertation situates an in-depth study of the young women that comprised the women’s selección (national team) within this distinct Mexican context, as well as that of the long-term trajectory of the post-revolutionary Mexican State and its ruling party, the Partido Revolucionario Institucional (PRI) in using physical education—literally Mexican bodies—to construct a healthy nation. Using newspapers and magazines from a representative sample of participating nations and archival materials, this project argues that the Mexican State strategically used these athletes in 1970 and 1971 as positive representations of Mexico both abroad, to international audiences, and within Mexico as host of the 1971 tournament. The novelty of using a female sports team to represent the nation resulted in some tension in media coverage, highlighting gendered inequalities and negative feminine stereotypes of the time. Despite some sexist depictions, the tournament was a success overall in presenting Mexico through the team and the spectacle of the tournament as a progressive and modern nation—an exemplar for other developing nations—as part of the broader goals of President Luis Echeverría during his sexenio (1970-1976).

Subject Area

History|Womens studies|Latin American history|Film, television, and media studies|Physical education|Sports Management

Recommended Citation

Homberger Cordia, Madelina M, "Las Aztecas: Gender, Nationalism, and Sport in Mexico and the World in the Early 1970s" (2024). ETD collection for University of Nebraska-Lincoln. AAI31240860.