in Spain, footballers on strike

The first division players had deserted the stadium lawn this weekend to denounce their working conditions. They demand the establishment of a minimum wage.

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Spanish goalkeeper Ainhoa ​​Tirapu, Ottawa, Canada, June 17, 2015. Andre Ringuette / AFP

"We must look for a better future for women's football", pleaded end of October with the daily newspaper El Pais the Spanish international Ainhoa ​​Tirapu. As 93% of the 188 players of the 16 clubs of the Iberian Premier League ("Primera Division"), the goalkeeper of the Althletic Bilbao had voted in favor of an unlimited strike. So, last weekend, none of the eight meetings of the 9e Primera day was not contested.

The unions and clubs of the League have agreed Monday, November 18, resume their negotiations. These, which last for more than a year, block on the financial aspect. The women footballers are asking for a minimum wage of 16,000 euros a year, with part-time contracts at least three quarters-time (which would amount to a minimum wage of 12,000 euros per year).

The clubs, until now, offered half-time contracts, offering only annual salaries at 8,000 euros. The more modest teams can not afford to meet the demands of the players, said the Association of Women's Football Clubs (ACFF). A position that the ACFF could review to believe, Monday, the union of Spanish footballers ("Asociacion de futbolistas españoles", AFE).

"Not just a question of money"

"We had to take more radical measures, but the negotiations were not enough (…). We can no longer be inactive and not fight for our rights, argued before the strike, Ainhoa ​​Tirapu. Especially as the context is favorable to women footballers, whose discipline enjoys greater visibility in the wake of this summer's World Cup in France.

One of the underlying issues is the professionalisation of the sector. Thus, among the demands of Primera footballers is the implementation of a collective agreement that would regulate their working conditions, with dignified hours, the ability to reconcile work and family life and take vacations. "We are full time footballers. When we dine, when we move, when we go to club events … Some play for many years and have hardly been paid. It's not just a question of money "Ainhoa ​​Tirapu insisted.

The English League is the European pioneer in this field. The 2018-2019 season was, for the first time, made up of eleven professional teams. And if the beginnings are stammering, this virtuous circle is felt in the stands, where the number of spectators is rising.

In France, no player is "pro" from a legal point of view. The footballers depend on the French Football Federation and not the Professional Football League and sign "federal contracts", which are in fact the same as those of amateurs.

"The well-being of the team"

The questions of consideration and recognition regularly agitate the female midfielder. In 2016, the Nigerians, victorious in the African Cup of Nations, had organized a sit-in in their hotel in the capital Abuja, even threatening not to return the trophy to the Federation if their bonuses were not paid by the authorities. The Super Falcons came to delight their eighth continental title. "This fight is about the well-being of the team. On the way the team has been managed over the years. We are champions. We fought for the nation »BBC striker Asisat Oshoala explained to the BBC.

The 28 players of the United States team, they filed in March a complaint in a court in Los Angeles (California) to denounce the difference in treatment with their male counterparts. "Discrimination affects not only their wages, but also their place of play and frequency, the way they train, the medical treatments and training, and even the way they go to games", explained the New York Times.

In France too, players have mobilized. In February 2018, the Guingampaises had launched a strike movement unprecedented in the history of the championship of France women to denounce the lack of resources and consideration on the part of the club in comparison with the men of En avant Guingamp. And the women describe the hours spent on the bus for a meeting in Marseille, the meals they had to prepare themselves or the field problems for training if they do not have one …

Some countries have already taken steps to reduce the pay gap between women's and men's teams. Since the end of 2017, the two Norwegian selections receive the same salary. This is also the case in New Zealand and, since November 6, in Australia where Socceroos and Matildas now benefit from the same treatment – including business class travel.

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