Spanish players deserve better

Lucia Ramirez of Sevilla CF looks over her shoulder.
Lucia Ramirez of Sevilla CF looks on during the Primera Division Femenina match between FC Barcelona and Sevilla FC at Estadi Johan Cruyff on December 19, 2020 in Barcelona, Spain. (Photo by Eric Alonso/Getty Images)

On 30 January, Primera Iberdrola players, from the likes of Caroline Graham-Hansen to Toni Duggan, released a collective statement demanding more support from the Spanish FA.

Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, teams in the Spanish league have faced more game postponements than any of the other top women’s leagues in Europe.

France’s Division 1 Féminin has impressively recorded zero postponements to date. Meanwhile, Germany’s Frauen Bundesliga has recorded two and England’s Women’s Super League has seen eight. The Primera Iberdrola, however, has had a significant 25.

Basic demands

The players’ statement centred around a call for improved Covid protocol. Not only do they want to ensure greater protection of players, but also the completion of the league.

Two key areas of importance addressed this outstanding problem. Firstly, the prioritisation of playing postponed matches. Secondly, the playing of said postponed matches if both teams have the minimum requirement of players.

The players ended their statement with a clear but simple message:

“Queremos soluciones. Queremos jugar. Queremos fútbol femenino.” [We want solutions. We want to play. We want women’s football.]

Postponements piling up

Although the Primera Iberdrola season began on the 3rd of October, some teams have seen little action. Barcelona have only managed to play 14 matches out of a possible 19. Professional players deserve professional protection, nothing of which the Spanish FA has supplied.

Other European leagues have shown league continuation alongside health protection to be more than possible. In what is such a flourishing and exciting league, it is an outrage that players should have to take action to demand what should be basic protection and support from the country’s football association.

Women’s leagues sidelined

Unfortunately, this is one incident amongst many where women’s football leagues have been sidelined by the very associations created to support them. A similar issue can be found closer to home, wherein the English FA’s mishandling of tiers 3-7 of the women’s football pyramid led to a survey being sent out to clubs to decide how the season should continue.

Ultimately, what is normally one of the most exciting leagues in Europe is now faltering. The players deserve permanent solutions, rather than a clumsy glossing over of the cracks, to ensure the completion of the league. It is sadly one more incident on a long list in which women’s football has been wrongly mistreated by the very associations dedicated to progressing them.