- Liga F says demands would lead to ‘economic failure’
- Players to strike for first two weeks of season
- League had been due to kick off on 8th September
Players in Liga F, Spanish soccer’s women’s top flight, will strike for the first two week of the 2023/24 season over pay and conditions.
The new campaign had been due to kick off on 8th September but has been put on hold, with the Spanish Players’ Association (AFE), which is one of several unions negotiating together, confirming the strike had been called because a ‘fair’ deal with the league over a new minimum wage could not be reached.
Negotiations began a year ago, when Liga F turned professional, but the top tier has said the players’ demands would lead to ‘economic failure’.
Last season, the minimum salary stood at €16,000 (US$17,100) but players want the minimum wage to be at least €25,000 (US$26,800) for 2023/24, rising to €30,000 (US$32,100) for the following campaign.
However, Liga F has said it has already offered the players a minimum salary of €18,000 (US$19,300), increasing to €25,000 over the next three seasons, along with help for childcare and financial aid to study. However, this was refused by players.
The league said in a statement that despite the unions showing ‘absolute immobility in their economic approaches’, it had followed up with a 25 per cent increase to the €16,000 wage, the elimination of part-time contracts and other benefits, all of which were rejected.
‘This Professional League will not give in to pressure or accept proposals that lead to the economic collapse of the competition, and, therefore, the failure of women’s professional football,’ the statement added.
This is not the first time a new Liga F season has been held up due to disagreements over pay and conditions. The 2022/23 campaign was delayed when referees went on strike seeking a better deal. Players also suspended a walkout in 2019 after agreeing to reopen salary talks with their clubs.
In June 2022, the Spanish Football Federation (RFEF) announced a five-year agreement for female national team players to receive the same bonuses as the men’s side. However, tensions between the women’s team and the national governing body have been fraught, with Spanish soccer now embroiled in controversy after RFEF president Luis Rubiales kissed Jenni Hermoso following the country’s 2023 Fifa Women’s World Cup triumph last month.
Hermoso, who has over 100 caps for the national team, has now submitted a complaint about Rubiales to the national prosecutor’s office.
Hermoso said the kiss was not consensual, and although Fifa has suspended Rubiales pending an investigation into his behaviour, he has refused to resign. The RFEF has also announced the dismissal of World Cup-winning coach Jorge Vilda this week.
The 42-year-old had been the only member of Spain’s backroom staff who had not quit in protest at Rubiales’ refusal to step down. Vilda had also applauded Rubiales at an emergency general assembly of the RFEF on 25th August when the latter said he would not quit.
It is not yet clear whether Vilda’s dismissal and the appointment of Montse Tome as his successor will be enough to prompt a return to action by Spain’s World Cup-winning squad for the Uefa Nations League matches against Sweden and Switzerland later this month.
The 23 players had been part of a group of 81 who had said they would not make themselves available for international duty until Rubiales had resigned.
Liga F should be preparing for fresh interest and further growth in the wake of Spain’s Women’s World Cup victory. Instead, the domestic game is veering from one dispute to the next.
PA Media contributed to this report.