It was an excellent idea but Barça’s initiative to take both their Men’s and Women’s teams on a joint tour of the United States backfired. The men travelled in Business Class while the women, almost as if the trip was some kind of honour, were downgraded to Economy Class. Some people have put forward the argument that the male players are mega professionals - superstars who generate massive income for the club; that their hectic careers mean that they deserve a few comforts – all of that is true. But it’s also true that something doesn’t sit quite right with all of this. In a year during which equality in the workplace has been a key issue here in Spain, Barça’s women’s team fly in worse conditions than the men and no one bats an eyelid - until the photos appear.
Different levels of comfort on long-haul flight
Barcelona are well aware that they got it wrong and as a consequence they will be a making sure it doesn’t happen again in the future. But then as someone else noted, Real Madrid’s stance on equality looks even worse – they don’t even have a women’s team, (nor for that matter a women’s basketball team, the most played sport by women in Spain). But as the old adage goes: “You don't need to know how to play castanets, but if you are going to do it, at least do it properly”. On the same flight, Barça booked the men’s squad (and club directors, among them a woman) in Business Class and for an extra, insignificant amount, they could easily have offered the women’s team the same level of comfort.
Change for the better
It’s not being petty, it’s just a gesture. It is a reminder during these times, in which there is a drive towards greater equality, that there are things that we still get wrong. Of course in terms of notoriety and profitability, Barça’s women’s team are a long way off the men’s team but that shouldn’t come into it at all when arranging a trip on this scale. However, there is a silver lining to all of this – it won’t happen again. The crude images of the men stretching back in their comfy, reclining armchairs in comparison to the women squeezed tightly together in Economy Class will serve, for the reaction it has produced, a new impulse towards a change in mentality across the board. It will be a reminder that sometimes it only takes a second to stop and think twice - and ensure things are done the right way.