Spain’s professional women footballers plan to go on strike, escalating their demands for better wages after a scandal over the country’s football chief kissing a player highlighted gender inequality in the sport.
(Bloomberg) — Spain’s professional women footballers plan to go on strike, escalating their demands for better wages after a scandal over the country’s football chief kissing a player highlighted gender inequality in the sport.
“Following more than a year of talks and given the impossibility of reaching a satisfactory agreement with the clubs, the unions — as representatives of the players — have been compelled to call a strike for two days,” the AFE union announced Friday on its website. The strike will take place during the first match days of the Liga F season, which is due to start Sept. 8.
Women’s football in Spain has been thrust into the global limelight. The national team’s Aug. 20 World Cup victory was soured by Luis Rubiales, the president of the Spanish Football Federation, grabbing Jennifer Hermoso’s head and kissing the star player on the lips during the celebration. Despite a suspension from FIFA and mounting political pressure, Rubiales has refused to resign and said the kiss was consensual — a claim Hermoso rejected as “categorically false.”
“These aren’t good moments in Spanish football,” Aitana Bonmati, captain of the team, said when she received the award as the world’s best female player. “We’ve won the World Cup, but it isn’t being talked about.”
“As a society we should not allow abuse of power in a work relationship nor any lack of respect,” she added. “So to my teammate Jenni and to all women to whom this has happened: we are with you.”
In the aftermath of the incident, Labor Minister Yolanda Diaz announced that the government would start cracking down on salary gaps between male and female players. Although footballers don’t need to be paid the same, the difference should be “reasonable,” she said, adding that men’s minimum annual salary in Spain stands at €180,000 ($195,000) compared with €16,000 for women.
Most of the players in the Spanish national team play in the domestic league, known as Liga F. It clashed with sponsor Finetwork and is reviewing legal options after the telecommunications firm said at the end of the season that it was not going to pay as it hadn’t signed a contract. The league said they had signed a three-season deal for €15 million.
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