If you didn’t know, approximately 200 women footballers met in Madrid late Tuesday and decided to go on strike until the end of November, after failing to reach an equality deal with clubs over working hours and minimum wages.
More than 90% of voting players favored the strike, which would be the first in women’s football in Spain. The players’ and clubs’ associations have been in negotiations over a first collective agreement for more than a year, however, they disagree over issues including the clubs’ decision to limit working hours to 20 per week. Obviously, players wanted at least 30 hours to be guaranteed.
Players also said they have already made compromises as their initial proposal was for clubs to guarantee the full 40 hours per week. Clearly, changes to the working-hour limits would give women players a minimum wage higher than the $17,800 (16,000 euros) currently offered by clubs.
Tirapu, a goalkeeper who also played for Spain’s national team, supported the strike because no significant progress had been made after 18 meetings.
“We feel that we are soccer players fulltime,” Athletic Bilbao captain Ainhoa Tirapu said to ‘AS’. “Some clubs have had players with contracts of 12 hours per week.”
“It’s not only about the money, it’s about our rights. “We hope to reach an agreement at some point, but we need this drastic measure because it’s the right moment for women’s soccer. This is not being done for ourselves, it’s being done for our future players.”
Among other issues, there’s the protection of benefits for women footballers in the case of pregnancy. Sadly, many clubs claim they can’t afford the changes currently proposed.
Currently, Spain has 16 first-division women’s clubs, but only a few are fully professional. FC Barcelona and Atletico de Madrid have been among the most successful teams in the league. Real Madrid will field a side in the league from next season after completing a takeover of Deportivo Tacon.
Undoubtedly, women’s football has grown these recent years, especially in Spain since the 2015 World Cup, when the country made its first appearance in the showcase tournament. More major corporate sponsors have also made investments in the sport, and media coverage has increased considerably. An example of this is how 60,000 people were at Atletico de Madrid’s Wanda Metropolitano Stadium last season for a game against Barcelona. The league said it was a record for the highest attendance at a women’s football game.
So, it’s not strange (and it shouldn’t be) to see that they’re asking for greater equality between men and women in the sport nowadays. Even players in the United States, like Alex Morgan and Megan Rapinoe, filed a suit earlier this year against US Soccer alleging gender and pay discrimination.
It’s great to see how women footballers fight hard to claim their equal rights to men’s football, however, the attitude of clubs and associations need to keep changing more and more, in order to “really” help players enjoy equally the sport they play and love.