Spain Women’s Top-Flight Players Go On Strike Over Pay Dispute

Players in Spain’s top-flight women’s league will go on strike for the opening two rounds of the new season after failing to reach an agreement with the league over minimum salary and working conditions, players’ union FUTPRO announced.

Five unions, including AFE and FUTPRO, originally called for a strike last week but following the failure of the latest round of negotiations with the league, they decided to go ahead with it on Thursday.

FUTPRO said the plan for a strike came after a year of negotiations with Liga F that left them “facing the impossibility of reaching an agreement with authorities”.

“We consider the final economic proposal of Liga F to be unacceptable and the five unions keep maintaining that a firm proposal in regards to minimum salary has to be applied so that the footballers of our country have wages at the level of their talent,” FUTPRO said in a statement.

“The position of the league during the negotiations surprises and saddens us, which at all times has been immovable in regards to meeting the proposal made by the unions.”

Several players of Spain’s World Cup-winning squad compete in Liga F, whose new season kicks off this weekend.

Minimum Salary

The existing minimum yearly wage of players in Liga F is €16,000 ($17,134). In their negotiations with the league, players were asking for a minimum salary of €25,000 this season and €30,000 next season.

Liga F proposed an increase to €18,000, with further gradual rises that would increase to €25,000 in three seasons. The offer also included benefits such as childcare assistance for players’ children during training, specific spaces for breastfeeding and bursaries for studies.

During Wednesday’s meeting, Liga F made another proposal – a €20,000 minimum wage, with a promise to review that figure again if this season Liga F generates more than € 8 million in commercial profit, in which case it would rise to €23,000.

The player unions and the players decided to lower their aspirations to €23,000 with the possibility of reaching €25,000 if this season’s profit exceeds € 8 million, but Liga F stood firm on its offer of €20,000, making “making the negotiations impossible.”

“It’s important to remember that the current minimum salary since 2019 is 16,000 euros ($17,100), an amount which by only applying the base rate rise of CPI (consumer price index) would rise to 18,554 euros ($19,900),” FUTPRO said.

“It’s a key moment to defend the working rights of our footballers and to have the commitment that the institutions which comprise the women’s football industry bet on the development and well-being of its protagonists.”

The dispute over salary and employment rights dates back to October 2018, when negotiations first began. In February 2020, a collective agreement was finally signed that satisfied both sides and set the €16,000 minimum wage.

Turmoil In Spanish Soccer

The decision to go on strike is the latest event in the turmoil engulfing women’s soccer in Spain.

On Tuesday, Spain’s head coach Jorge Vilda, who led them to the World Cup, was fired by the Royal Spanish Football Federation in the wake of a long-standing dispute between him and players.

Vilda had been facing criticism since last year when 15 players called for his resignation over “inadequate coaching methods” and his creation of a “dictatorial” environment.

Villda’s sacking came 10 days after FIFA suspended RFEF’s President Luis Rubiales for kissing team player Jenni Hermoso on the mouth without consent in celebration of Spain’s World Cup victory.

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