Closing The Gap

Spain's top female soccer players strike over pay

Spain goalkeeper Ainhoa Tirapu
Philippe Bouchard/Icon Sportswire/Corbis/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Female soccer players in Spain's top division went on strike over the weekend after negotiations broke down over minimum pay.

A reported 200 players approximately from 16 clubs in the Spanish Women's First Division, known as the Primera División Femenina, voted to go on strike at the weekend, seeing eight games called off.

The strike came as a result of a breakdown in talks that had been in progress for more than a year with the Association of Women's Football Clubs over an agreement covering minimum working conditions.

This included rights to minimum pay, maternity policy as well as holiday and injury leave.

Clubs are proposing a minimum salary of 16,000 euros ($17,703) a year but the unions representing the players are asking for at least 20,000 euros ($22,129), according to a BBC report.

"It has not been easy for them, but they know that Asociación de Futbolistas Españoles (AFE) will be at their side at all times, supporting any decision they make," said David Aganzo, president of AFE, in a translation of his statement from the union's website.

"Their demands are not only fair, they are necessary if we want equality to begin to be effective and real, both in the world of football and in society in general," he continued.

The AFE has circulated a video about the strike on social media, featuring top players such as Athletic Bilboa goalkeeper Ainhoa Tirapu and Atlético Madrid midfielder Silvia Meseguer.

UDG Tenerife was due to play Espanyol on Saturday but said technical difficulties with its flight as well as the strike were behind its decision to postpone the match.

In a statement on its website UDG Tenerife said it wanted to respect the players' decision to strike, hoping that a "fruitful and positive agreement" would soon be reached "for the sake of women's football and generations to come."

Earlier this month, Australia's national women's team secured equal pay and entitlements to the men's team.

The "Matildas," the official nickname for the women's team, are eighth in the world, while the men's "Socceroos" sit 44th, according to FIFA's rankings.

The governing body called Football Federation Australia (FFA) and the union, the Professional Footballers Australia (PFA), agreed that both the men's and women's team would now receive an equal share of revenues.

A new tiered contract system for the Matildas would give the players an increase in salary with top-tier players earning the same amount as their counterparts in the Socceroos.

The agreement also improved on maternity policy and enabled the Matildas to travel business class internationally, as has been the case for the Socceroos.

FFA chairman believed the agreement "means whether you are a male or female, the value football places on your jersey is no different."

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