Spanish women footballers secure historic pay agreement

The first collective agreement in the history of Spanish women's football, a deal that will improve conditions for top-flight players, has been signed after 16 months of negotiations.

In November, players went on strike for the first time ever when negotiations broke down after over a year.

"This Collective Agreement will give security to the group with a framework of employment relations already set that equals women with men in football.

"The signing of this agreement is a historic event for Spanish sport and also a source of inspiration for the other colleagues who practise other sports," the Association of Spanish Footballers (AFE) said in a statement.

As part of the deal, players will get an annual minimum salary of €16,000 with those on part-time contracts receiving 75% of the full-time salary. They will have a 35-hour working week with 30 days of paid vacation and their salary is guaranteed in the event of injury.

Should a player become pregnant while in the final year of her contract, she can opt to automatically be given a one-year contract extension.

Clubs had maintained that they could not afford to meet the terms and argued that some of the 16 teams that compose the Primera Iberdrola would go out of business.

"This is a starting point, not a point of arrival," Spanish Sports Council president Irene Lozano told reporters. "We need to keep building on this foundation, but it's a historic day... It's also very important for Spanish women because women know that when a collective advances, we all advance."

The agreement was helped when the Spanish broadcasting group Mediapro, which purchased the television rights of 12 Primera Iberdrola clubs in March 2019 for €3 million per season for the next three campaigns, added another €1.1m per season to the deal.

"Mediapro has been key in solving the problem, showing, once again, its firm commitment to women's football," the clubs said in a statement.

The Spanish FA announced last month it had taken steps to facilitate the collective agreement.

The federation said that clubs of the first and second division would be allowed to join the Royal Spanish Football Federation (RFEF) Lite Program, which offers each club €500,000 and €100,000, respectively, per season. Until now, only three clubs -- Barcelona, Athletic Club and CD Tacon -- that were not part of the Association of Women's Football Clubs (ACFF) could benefit from it.

The RFEF also accepted the ACFF's proposal to allow Mediapro to continue to show two games per round as well as freeing other games to be broadcast on national television this season.

The union said the strike action on Nov. 16, the first since the league creation in 1988, was pivotal.

"The strike proved crucial and was a turning point in what has been a long process that finally the negotiations were unblocked," AFE said in a statement.

The collective agreement will be extended from season to season.