Primera Iberdrola soccer players to strike over pay dispute

Walkout for Spain’s top women’s soccer league proposed as talks with clubs break down.

23 October 2019 Ed Dixon
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Players in Spain’s top women’s soccer league, the Primera Iberdrola, have voted to go on strike after negotiations with clubs over a minimum salary, benefits and part-time contracts broke down.

Following months of talks aimed at securing a collective bargaining agreement, 93 per cent of players have voted in favour of a strike that will be organised by the Spanish Footballers’ Association (AFE).

The stoppage could start on 16th November, after the international break on the weekend of 3rd November, though AFE president David Aganzo has said more dates are being considered.

The length of the walkout has not been confirmed either, but it could affect all fixtures involving Primera Iberdrola teams, including European cup competitions such as the Uefa Women’s Champions League.

A strike had initially been proposed towards the end of last season, with Aganzo adding 18 meetings had taken place with clubs in a bid to reach an agreement.

The AFE’s demands include a minimum salary of between €16,000 (US$17,800) and €20,000 (US$22,200), and a call for players to be recognised contractually as full-time professionals. Athletes also want a maternity policy, holiday leave and an injury leave framework to be put in place across all clubs. 

One stumbling block has been the inability to reach an agreement on part-time contracts. Players want these contracts to have a minimum salary of €12,000 (US$13,300), amounting to 75 per cent of the full-time salary, but clubs only want to pay €8,000 (US$8,900), or 50 per cent. 

Ainhoa Tirapu, Athletic Bilbao’s captain, said: “We are footballers 24 hours a day, 100 per cent of the time. We had to take drastic measures; negotiating alone was not enough. We have to seek a better future. We have to fight for our rights.”

Aganzo added: “We go on about how good women footballers are and we have to give them what they deserve. We have to respect women. They should have rights commensurate with their obligations.”

The planned strike action in Spain follows similar steps taken by female athletes in leagues and sports elsewhere. In North America, for example, more than 200 top ice hockey players are taking a year out from competing professionally in a push to establish a single, economically viable league.

Meanwhile members of the US women’s national soccer team remain embroiled in a long-running, widely documented legal dispute with US Soccer over fair pay and equal treatment.

The walkout for Spain’s top women’s soccer league has been proposed after talks with clubs broke down.

Players in Spain’s top women’s soccer league, the Primera Iberdrola, have voted to go on strike after negotiations with clubs over a minimum salary, benefits and part-time contracts broke down.

Following months of talks aimed at securing a collective bargaining agreement, 93 per cent of players have voted in favour of a strike that will be organised by the Spanish Footballers’ Association (AFE).

The stoppage could start on 16th November, after the international break on the weekend of 3rd November, though AFE president David Aganzo has said more dates are being considered.

The length of the walkout has not been confirmed either, but it could affect all fixtures involving Primera Iberdrola teams, including European cup competitions such as the Uefa Women’s Champions League.

A strike had initially been proposed towards the end of last season, with Aganzo adding 18 meetings had taken place with clubs in a bid to reach an agreement.

The AFE’s demands include a minimum salary of between €16,000 (US$17,800) and €20,000 (US$22,200), and a call for players to be recognised contractually as full-time professionals. Athletes also want a maternity policy, holiday leave and an injury leave framework to be put in place across all clubs. 

One stumbling block has been the inability to reach an agreement on part-time contracts. Players want these contracts to have a minimum salary of €12,000 (US$13,300), amounting to 75 per cent of the full-time salary, but clubs only want to pay €8,000 (US$8,900), or 50 per cent. 

Ainhoa Tirapu, Athletic Bilbao’s captain, said: “We are footballers 24 hours a day, 100 per cent of the time. We had to take drastic measures; negotiating alone was not enough. We have to seek a better future. We have to fight for our rights.”

Aganzo added: “We go on about how good women footballers are and we have to give them what they deserve. We have to respect women. They should have rights commensurate with their obligations.”

The planned strike action in Spain follows similar steps taken by female athletes in leagues and sports elsewhere. In North America, for example, more than 200 top ice hockey players are taking a year out from competing professionally in a push to establish a single, economically viable league.

Meanwhile members of the US women’s national soccer team remain embroiled in a long-running, widely documented legal dispute with US Soccer over fair pay and equal treatment.

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