The Spanish Players’ Association [AFE] has accused the Royal Spanish Football Federation [RFEF] of undervaluing the women’s game, saying Barcelona were “victims of clear discrimination” following their Super Cup victory.
The RFEF drew criticism on Sunday for the awards ceremony after Barcelona beat Real Sociedad 3-0 in the Spanish Super Cup final. Captain Marta Torrejon collected the trophy from the stands on her own, while her teammates collected their own medals from a box on the side of the pitch.
In a statement released on Sunday, the RFEF said it had used the same protocol in the men’s game previously, but the AFE said the Federation is not promoting equality in women’s sport.
“Barcelona and Real Sociedad players were undervalued when collecting their medals,” an AFE statement read. “The RFEF did not recognize the finalists as they deserved. A few days earlier, in Saudi Arabia, their [male counterparts] were recognized as they deserved with the RFEF president presenting the medals on the pitch after the men’s Super Cup.
“Barca and Real Sociedad’s.” [women] did not receive the same treatment. They are the victims of clear discrimination and it left a lamentable image that cannot be repeated.
“Spain’s Ministry of Culture and Sports and the Higher Sports Council cannot and should not ignore these types of events when a new law [Ley del Deporte] — which the AFE has corroborated on — includes essential components for the promotion of equality between men and women.”
The RFEF’s statement said on Sunday the same protocol had been applied in last season’s Copa del Rey final between Real Betis and Valencia, as well as in the 2022 Women’s Super Cup final.
Following the continued fallout throughout Monday, though, a further comment was posted on social media to reject the accusations of discrimination.
“We regret the controversy that has been generated,” the RFEF said. “We can assure that there is no discrimination or different treatment of genders. In the Copa finals last season, the women received their medals; the men didn’t.
“These decisions are based on the specifics of the stadiums used and the security in place. There is always room to reflect and improve. We are the first to look for excellence in Spanish football, both in the men’s and the women’s game.”
The RFEF is also in dispute with 15 members of the women’s national team, who have said they do not wish to be selected until serious changes are made to the current setup.
In an email, the players, who have not played for their country since September, explained that representing Spain in the environment was affecting both their health and emotional state and that they did not intend to return until a solution was found.