Evolution of women´s football in Spain
The reality of women’s football in Spain contrasts with the scenario of two decades ago, when third place in the 1997 European Championship barely appeared in the newspapers; nothing compared to the front pages and headlines that accompany all the successes of national teams, as well as the subcategories or the great milestones of the national leagues.
Arantza del Puerto was the captain of this amateur team that surprised Europe and for many years was the most honored player in Spain, but she never made a living from football. She recalls: «It is a luxury for someone to dedicate her free time to coaching a women’s team without being paid anything.”
1971: back to the beginning
In 1969, after the establishment of the FA’s women’s football division, the Football Association finally recognized the reality of women categories. In 1971, UEFA entrusted its partners with the management and promotion of this activity, which was to intensify in the following years. Thus, in 1970 the first unofficial world championship was held in Italy, and in 1971 another in Mexico. FIFA does not recognize any of them, but the practice and popularity of women’s soccer is unstoppable. The Spanish national team, although only a year old, has already been invited to the World Cup in Mexico thanks to its excellent performance in several friendlies played previously. It was omitted, however, due to the prohibition of the RFEF, then presided over by José Luis Pérez-Paya, which did not recognize women’s soccer until 1983.
In our country, the case of goalkeeper Irene González, who played several matches against a team of veterans from La Coruña in 1920, caused a great sensation, but only in the Republic of Poland.
It's not just football...
With football, the role of women in society has increased in recent decades. «Until now, women have always been a bit more isolated, especially in important positions or jobs that require a lot of effort,» recalls Mariasun.
Sonia Prim advocates not only equal opportunities, but also the advantage of skills over gender: «I have always said that equality is not about sharing positions between men and women. If there are eight women and two good men, let there be eight women. And if eight good men and two women are the same. They should be the best, regardless of their sexual status.”
In her final reflection, she adds: «What we achieve will help lesser-known sports. It’s good that a minority like women’s soccer gets what it wants.»
The first signings
Before the arrival of FC Barcelona, Atletico Madrid and Athletic Club, women’s soccer in Spain was a regional sport. From Oroquieta and Torrejón in Madrid, Añorga and Oyartzun in San Sebastián, teams with few resources dependent almost entirely on government subsidies and aid. Levante emerged at the turn of the century and became a pioneering club, recruiting players from all over the country and paying them to play soccer, something unthinkable less than a decade ago.
Sonia Prim arrived in Valencia from Pozuelo and was barely of age. For her, who has been smoking soccer since she was a child, it is a dream to dedicate herself to it. For her, who spent a year without the opportunity to compete because there were no women’s teams in her neighborhood, this was a lifesaver. And Sonya is always supported from home. «My father was a fan. He took me to Torrejón, Villaverde, Oroquiet,» she says excitedly, “I was happy to play”.
Current events in women's football
There is no doubt that women’s football in our country is going through a flourishing moment, developing, but far from perfect. To find out why the beautiful game in our country is still totally and painfully different from the male one because of the adult woman, we talk to Danaja Boronat, journalist of Mediapro and soccer presenter at Movistar. In addition, so does Maika Jiménez, a soccer journalist, on why society continues to beat up on soccer players, their salaries and their right to the ball.
For her part Danaja, highlighting that women’s soccer in Spain is in a stage of development and expansion, explained that it is still immersed in the landscape of gestures and words, so it takes only real commitment can make a difference. still seems distant. «Companies are still investing in women’s soccer, which is very expensive. They talk about equality, but when it comes to sponsoring teams and competitions, they choose men. There is still no real will to strengthen the base on which to grow with a balanced, but ethical and fair model«, she assures.
Finally, we asked Maika Jiménez if it is not only stereotypes that are holding back the future of footballers, but also the press and the headlines that attack athletes. «I think the media will have a lot of self-criticisms in this regard. I don’t know if the bad attitude towards women’s soccer that sometimes comes out in the press is due to the fact that there are fewer and fewer women in the sports press. It is clear that, at the end of the day, machismo still reigns in society, and therefore in the media. Let’s hope that changes. The situation has improved a lot in recent years and I think we are on the right track«, she said.