The Real Federación Española de Fútbol declared that the Primera Iberdrola and the Reto Iberdrola will go professional. Before the declaration, the two highest divisions of Spanish women’s football were semi-professional.
The top tier of women’s futsal in Spain will also elevate to professional status. Like the women’s football leagues, both men’s and women’s futsal previously held amateur status.
The divisions and the teams within them must meet certain economic and work conditions that aren’t in place at this current time.
While not yet elaborated on, these criteria will most likely revolve around newly set standards. This will include players and coaching, as well as the environments afforded to each.
These regulations will also lay down the minimum terms that each club must meet to take part in the leagues. Such terms will pertain to the budget for non-playing staff and the number of contracted professional players. Player wages and contact hours will also fall under these regulations.
With 16 clubs in the Spanish top division, some like Logrono and Tenerife aren’t affiliated with a men’s side. Because of this, you would imagine these terms won’t be as severe as in the FAWSL, the only other fully professional women’s league in Europe.
Currently in the FAWSL, a team is a full-time professional unit when they can “offer their players a minimum 16 hour a week contract.” In the semi-professional world of the FA Women’s Championship, that minimum is set at 8 hours.
Yet, within the first year of implementing these measures in the FAWSL, Yeovil Town went into administration. As a result, the team dropped down to the third tier.
With five more clubs in the Primera Iberdrola than there were in the FAWSL at the time, teams could become more vulnerable. The economic uncertainty that the coronavirus has presented would add to this.Embed from Getty Images
The governing body have made a firm commitment to the professionalisation of the top two divisions. Yet, they have afforded themselves room to manoeuvre. They could follow through with their overall plan by not divulging the full requirements at this date.
If the RFEF don’t want to make any more radical changes, they could grant themselves some concessions. This would avoid the need to decrease the size of the league, or replace teams for financial reasons.
The RFEF could allow semi-professional sides or non-professional players to compete in the pro leagues. Committees would then oversee all divisions and ensure that other standards are upheld.
Regardless of these details, what is clear is the tremendous leap forward this could mean for women’s football in Spain, Europe, and the World. All that remains is to see just how big of a leap it is.