More than 88,000 licensed players will compete in Spain, a number that will only increase after the tournament. “We’ll all benefit from it.” League F revenue is pending
Spanish women’s football has an opportunity to make history this Sunday at the Accor Stadium in Sydney. In their third participation in a World Cup, the players will have the opportunity to become champions and feel that, in the last eight years, barriers have been broken down, allowing them to achieve dreams without limits. The explosion in women’s football has been meteoric, accelerating processes that other sports have struggled with for decades. However, there is a concern as to how to manage the success so that the fruits of this World Cup provide enough sustainability for the consolidation of the newly formed F-League and professionalization.
The fact that women decided to play this sport years ago is proven in the stands and on the field since the 1988/89 season, the first season there was a championship, but in the last eight years interest in the game has multiplied. In 2014, a year before Spain played their first World Cup in Canada, there were 44,873 federated girls and young women. In 2022, the number doubled and reached the value of 87,827. Although football ranks first in the total number of association sports, it ranks fourth among women behind basketball, mountaineering, and golf.
The evidence suggests the quarry is growing, and the successes aren’t stopping. And it is that to the two Champions League titles won by Barça in those glorious years, Spain adds triumphs at one U20 World Cup and five U19 European Championships, to which are added four more U17 and two World Cups. However, these titles did not represent strong competition, which clubs like Real Madrid did not believe in, nor did they provide uniform working conditions for the players. In June 2021, the Higher Sports Council approved the professionalization of the women’s football league, renamed Liga F, organized by an independent body of the RFEF made up of the clubs and with management capacity. The gas pedal was pressed, but not without obstacles.
“Very rapid progress has been made, leaping decades in just two years. “Ten years ago, it was difficult for you to make a living from football,” he says. Andrea Esteban, former international, U17 European champion, and current coach of Deportivo Alavés in Erste RFEF “All the lower-category successes showed that we were knocking on the door of this sport and that there was a brutal raw material. Without them, professionalization might not have arrived,” he warns, acknowledging that the “empowerment of women in sport ‘ is another key. “It’s become normal to see women play football, and this World Cup will have a bigger impact on that because girls already have tremendous role models.” And the kids too, as the semi-final was Spain-Sweden, with a 45.4% audience share and peak values of almost four million viewers the most-watched Women’s World Cup match. “Now we have to work to ensure that there is no bubble here and that the people who will hopefully take to the streets to celebrate the win later go to the F-League fields and become supporters of women’s football.” That’s the challenge, warns the coach.
“Now they have an agreement.”
You, too, can share this vision Pedro Malabia, F League strategic director, has been associated with office management for decades. “I am sure that this success of the team will have a positive impact on the F-League since they won the European Cup for Barça and the Ballon d’Or.” Alexia Putella, or the full ones in Wanda. It is no coincidence that the four semifinalists (Australia, England, Spain, and Sweden) are playing in professional competitions. All of the football will benefit from this: organizers, sponsors, fans, and of course the players.”
They are the ones whose lives have changed. “They have gone from paying contributions by the hour and endless bus rides with a meager picnic to an agreement that not only collects a minimum wage but also social rights,” he recalls. Andrea Esteban.
However, there is a lot to do there. The improvement of the agreement, in which the professionals demand that the minimum salary be increased to 40,000 euros in the next five years or that the clubs have kindergartens, scholarships for studies, and complete medical structures, is being negotiated, and the positions are a long way off.
20 million budget
Professionalization has happened so quickly that it has resulted in dysfunction. Clubs—almost all anchored in masculine structures but with their budgets—continue to suffer losses after years of gratuitous investment. “With the creation of League F, we leaped governance and management, and the sector has responded, but we have to have common sense and remember where we come from. You have to be patient and not run away,” recalls Malabia
The World Cup will mean additional visibility that has not been reflected in revenues so far. Liga F manages a budget of around $20 million, of which 12 are provided by DAZN and a further eight by LaLiga for the commercial assets they help market, in addition to a government contribution dedicated solely to infrastructure.
Additionally, it bears the burden of a conflict with the RFEF and is reluctant to relinquish control of the first female category. Last season, the first professionalized season, the tension led to the fact that a few weeks before the start there was no calendar without knowing the quota of non-EU members that they could have, without television, and even with the threat of referees striking. The agreement was reached, but the RFEF increased the price of the arbitration to the clubs, also professionalizing it, from 700,000 euros to 3.5 million euros, federation registrations, and even sanctions for yellow and red, which increased from 3,920 euros to 220,000 euros. With these amounts, the F-League pays 32.6% of its income to the Spanish FA.
But it was the CSD that put women’s clubs in an even more difficult situation, according to the employers’ association, by forcing them to give 20% of their commercial revenues to the RFEF as a solidarity fund for women’s grassroots football, which remains under the umbrella of Luis Rubiales. “It seems disproportionate to us because, in the male sense, it was stipulated by royal decree in the Pacts of Viana that it would be 2% of the TV rights. “When we donate 1.6 million to an association that registers more than 400 members, it’s not the right time for us to support it,” he says.
All of these latent conflicts will be eclipsed for a few hours to see if players are affected Jorge Vilda They are capable of making history, winning, and providing an unexpected yet important impetus for the consolidation of women’s football in Spain.