Players in Spain’s top-flight women’s league have ended their strike for the new season after the players’ union and the league reached an agreement over a new minimum wage.
Last week, players’ union FUTPRO announced that players would go on strike for the first two rounds of the new season after failing to reach an agreement with the league over minimum salary and working conditions.
Players intended to be on strike until the weekend of September 30 at the earliest, but will now return to play after reaching an agreement on Thursday, FUTPRO said. The 2023-24 Liga F season will thus begin on Friday.
The existing minimum yearly wage of players in Liga F is €16,000 (approximately $17,000). 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 had 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.
As per the new agreement, there will be a €21,000 minimum salary for this season, €22,500 for 2024-25 and €23,500 for 2025-26. Those amounts can increase by €2,500, €2,500 and €4,500 respectively, based on profits from commercial income.
The new agreement will replace the previous pay structure, which had been agreed before Liga F turned fully professional in 2020.
“The commitment and repeated efforts of the clubs during the negotiation process have made a fundamental contribution to achieving the much-needed peace scenario without losing sight of the sustainability of the competition,” Liga F said in a statement, according to Reuters.
“A scenario that we hope will show the way to the rest of the institutions that form part of Spanish sport and allow the project of women’s professional football to move forward.”
FUTPRO said the new agreement is “the beginning”.
“Now it is time to work to advance in such important points as maternity, harassment protocol, compensation list and others that we consider equally important for the correct development of the activity of our football players,” FUTPRO, said in a statement, according to The Athletic.
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 was the latest event in the turmoil engulfing women’s soccer in Spain.
Last week, 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.
On Sunday, Rubiales resigned as the Spanish FA president, after weeks of defending himself against claims of sexual misconduct.
Rubiales said it was “evident” he would not be able to return to his position of president after a suspension by soccer’s governing body FIFA, an internal investigation launched by his federation, and potential criminal sexual assault charges.
Later today, Rubiales will testify before a Madrid court in a sexual assault investigation.
Rubiales, who has faced a storm of criticism for the incident, has been summoned by a high court judge to respond to accusations of sexual misconduct and coercion after Hermoso filed a legal complaint against him for sexual assault.