Women's football deserves more than a single day in the sun
La Liga Iberdrola crowned its champions on Sunday and it wasn’t Barcelona, but Atlético Femenino, who won the division with a six-point lead. Atleti were confirmed as title-winners after a 3-1 victory away at Real Sociedad but they didn’t need to win their final game as Barcelona lost away at Granadilla Tenerife. Atlético’s domestic success makes Barcelona’s achievement in Europe even greater in magnitude, the Catalans reaching the final of the Champions League at the expense of Bayern Munich. Waiting for them there are Olympique Lyon, the bête noire of Europe and winners of the past three titles. But the simple fact that Barça are there and that a different side won La Liga by six points gives an idea of the level Spanish women’s football has reached over the past few years.
For many years there have been people working for the benefit of women’s football. In its early stages there were many considerable difficulties; now there are fewer, although many remain, but this season has been a watershed moment with the foundations laid for sustained growth. The sponsorship of energy company Iberdrola provided the impetus and LaLiga, television channel Gol and the Spanish Football Federation (RFEF) have all played their part in what has been a remarkable achievement. The huge steps taken in just a few years have been incredible, with sustained interest from both supporters and the media culminating in several attendances this season of tens of thousands of supporters and a world-record crowd filling the Metropolitano for Atlético vs Barcelona.
Spain's football authorities must nurture the women's game
It is the perfect moment to ensure that all this good work is not wasted. Of all their feuds, this is the one I would like Javier Tebas of LaLiga and Luis Rubiales of the RFEF to resolve first. There is a schism forming and it will be both unseemly and damaging. One threat on top of another, the differing stances as concerns a collective bargaining agreement, a vital situation that nobody should lose sight of and – and I know this is not a popular topic – the transfer market. Pushing clubs too hard will force many of them to dissolve due to impossible financial demands. Women’s football has earned the right for patience after years of suffering in silence, but it is not yet at the stage where it is sufficiently robust to withstand certain conflicts. First and foremost, Tebas and Rubiales have to bury the hatchet.