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Players competing in Liga F, the top-tier women’s football competition in Spain, will strike for the first two weeks of the new season after failing to reach an agreement with the league over a new minimum wage.
Liga F has held talks throughout the week with the various players’ unions, led by the Spanish Players’ Assocation [AFE], but announced on Wednesday that a deal could not be brokered.
The players are requesting a minimum salary of €25,000 be introduced for the upcoming season, rising to €30,000 for the 2024-25 campaign. It was set at €16,000 last season, the league’s first since turning fully professional.
In a statement, Liga F explained it had gradually increased its offer throughout the week, which also included eliminating part-time contracts and providing various other benefits, such as child care and other help for parents.
“The unions [negotiating on behalf of the players] showed absolutely no willingness to negotiate their salary demands,” Liga F said. “Despite their incomprehensible attitude, Liga F, in response to the request of the unions themselves, took new steps towards reaching an agreement and [on Wednesday] presented a new alternative agreement for a single season with a minimum salary of €20,000 — an increase of 25% on the current minimum salary — with the possibility of reaching €23,000 based on commercial benefits generated by the competition.
“The union response today was, once again, negative. The irresponsibility, lack of spirit and lack of vision of the unions has led players to a strike that is seriously damaging the image of Spanish women’s football at a time when all players should have understood the obvious potential for growth from which all parties could have benefited if the common interest of the project had prevailed over personal interests.
“The league, in order to avoid a strike, will not give in to pressure or accept proposals that would mean the economic collapse of the competition and, therefore, the failure of women’s professional football.”
The strike comes at a key juncture for women’s football in the country after Spain won the Women’s World Cup for the first time this summer, beating England in the final in Sydney last month.
That success has been overshadowed by the fallout from Spanish football federation [RFEF] president Luis Rubiales’ conduct during the celebrations, including his non-consensual kiss on forward Jenni Hermoso’s lips.
Rubiales has since been suspended by FIFA for 90 days, is the subject of an investigation for “serious misconduct” from Spain’s top sports court [TAD] and, on Wednesday, Hermoso filed a legal complaint for sexual assault against him.
Meanwhile, World Cup winning coach Jorge Vilda has also been fired as part of a wider re-structuring at the RFEF.
The start of Liga F was also delayed last season when referees went on strike demanding better conditions.
The league was due to kick off on Friday, with Sevilla against Granadilla Tenerife, while champions Barcelona, who have won the competition in each of the last four seasons, were set to host Valencia on Sunday.