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Tuesday, June 28, 2022

Women still lose to landslides

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Without much euphoria, but happy after concluding an agreement with the Royal Spanish Football Federation (RFEF), which represents an important step forward for the women’s team, shortly after the announcement, one of the Reds’ leaders privately and on condition of confidentiality highlighted these days: “If we consider where we come from, the change for us is very big. But little by little we have to go further. Now it is UEFA and FIFA that need to make a step forward in terms of equality between men and women,” said the dressing room manager.

After six months of negotiations, the federation and the captains reached an agreement last week: the Spanish women’s soccer team will receive the same percentage of prizes and sponsorship as the men. Bonuses for friendlies will be adjusted and some of the working conditions will be coordinated with the men’s team. In terms of overall numbers, however, the difference between one and the other is still huge. For example, UEFA gave away €317m to men’s teams at Euro 2021 for the 16 they will give to women’s teams at this summer’s Euro. Men take 23 times more. FIFA, for its part, has already announced that Qatar 2022 prizes will be 440 million. At the last Women’s World Cup in 2019, the prizes were ten times lower: 44 million.

In January 2022, a month after the founding of FutPro, a union exclusively for women’s football, negotiations between the captains of the national team and the federation began. Something unprecedented from the get-go, players were asking FutPro to take the lead in the talks. “When we started working out the union with the players, we talked about the agreement [para la Liga, aprobado en 2020] It was ok, but you had to go one step further. And all of them for the national team as well,” explains Amanda Gutiérrez, President of FutPro. The starting point was looked at first. The players received 150 euros per day for diets; 300 for an official match, plus 150 if you win; 150 and 75 per friend; and 1,000 euros for focusing on image rights. With this data on the table, the federal government and the union agreed to analyze other countries. “We wanted to know what happens in the top 10 of the FIFA rankings,” added Reyes Bellver, a lawyer specializing in sports law who was also present at the hearings.

The team topping the list is reigning world champions USA. After years of wrangling, they reached a historic agreement to rectify the disparity: the men’s and women’s prizes distributed by FIFA and CONCACAF will be placed in a common fund and distributed in equal amounts to both teams. However, the Federation viewed the American pact with some suspicion. “We had to be realistic, we couldn’t compare ourselves to the US. Women generate more than men,” explains Gutiérrez. Then what is happening in Europe was analyzed. The situation was closer to that of the Scandinavian countries. “Football is Norway’s biggest sport for girls and has been for years, but girls don’t get the same opportunities as boys,” lamented inaugural Women’s Ballon d’Or winner Ada Hegerberg as she relinquished her selection in 2017. Then corresponded his country (11th place in the ranking) the conditions.

England (eighth) distributes the money in a similar way to that approved in Spain: “The FA pays their players exactly the same for representing England, both in terms of per-game allowances and per-game bonuses,” said the Federation English 2020. In Germany (fifth) they are far from level, reports Elena G. Sevillano. The highest association in German football (DFB) is paying every player 60,000 euros if they win the European Championship this summer, more than double what it paid in 2013 (22,500) but a far cry from what it paid at the men’s European Championship last year has bid (400,000). “It’s not about that for us same salary (same payment), but from same game (same game), so creating the same conditions,” said Giulia Gwinn, German player Heaven.

FIFA ranking

Spain is the seventh team in the FIFA rankings. “You had to take into account what is happening in other countries, but the most important thing was to take into account what is happening in women’s football in Spain, because the X Country men’s team didn’t generate or win everything that the Spanish team won,” explains Amanda Gutierrez . At the time, the captains and union leader welcomed the adoption of the men’s team model. That is, a percentage of prizes in official competitions and a fixed amount tracked from friendlies. The Spanish players also wanted the same working and travel conditions as the Germans. And they succeeded: “Now we have a pressure chamber, hypoxia training, there is a lot of garbage in the gym, which the fitness trainer is happy about. Those are things that tell you that we’re going for everything,” said Alexia Putellas the anthill.

The negotiations, while never in danger of stagnating, were not easy, nor did they have the unanimity of the players. One of the most controversial points was the image rights. Not because the association didn’t accept that women get the same percentage as men from every sponsor, but because the footballers wanted more commitment from the RFEF. “It would be nice if they pulled themselves together to get sponsors and that it wasn’t always the same players who go to events,” says one of the dressing room managers.

“There were players who weren’t paid to play with Spain”

Former national coach Silvia Neid recalls that the prize the team’s players received after winning their first European title in 1989 was a stylish coffee set that her mother proudly presented to visitors for many years. In Spain, not so long ago, there were footballers who decided against participating in the national team. “I’ve seen colleagues who stopped going into the national team because it didn’t compensate them financially,” explains Vero Boquete, international at La Roja between 2004 and 2017. “I thought for years that we were losing generations of top players have soccer players who certainly could have earned more than you earn now. What happened? They weren’t professionals. They trained at 9am, they had no gyms or where to prepare. Many had to work. All of these players didn’t get a chance to shine,” Boquete added.

“I don’t know how much they were asking Vero at the time,” said Amanda Gutiérrez, President of FutPro. “I understand that it would be even less than the basis with which I started the negotiations. But that could have happened to us too. Despite the fact that today the players are paid by their clubs and there is an agreement that is a minimum, but there is an agreement, there were football players who were not compensated for going to the national team on their holidays. What if they got hurt? They could miss a competition with their clubs because they went to the national team. And for what money?” Gutiérrez concludes.

For Amanda Gutiérrez, the agreement is positive. Unlike the English and German players, the players did not want a fixed amount. “The prizes grow from competition to competition, as does the money from the sponsors. We couldn’t get our fingers caught,” says the President of FutPro. Well, yes, the peephole is in UEFA. “We cannot ask UEFA to take over the men’s awards as it would not be sustainable. But what they have to do is get the fans to watch this European Championship. Make announcements, promotions, make sure every country broadcasts it. That way, people will consume it and women’s football will grow,” concludes Gutiérrez. Another step was taken in women. But only one.

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