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Cristian Martin, Director of B-Engaged Sports and writer
, analyzes for Mundo Deportivo the 21 challenges of women's football for the year 2021.

“Women's football needs fewer voices and more speakers. Less noise and more nuts. Less flag bearers and more committed. Less interest and more interest because the important thing is not what is promised, it is what is fulfilled. And 2020 has not been the consolidation of a hatching 2019. We don't ask for perfection from 21, but we do ask for progress ”, explains our expert, who lists the 21 challenges for this new year.

Cristian Martin, Director of B-Engaged Sports and writer
Cristian Martin, Director of B-Engaged Sports and writer

1. Common sense with training rights. Training rights must exist. But in reasonable amounts, according to the market and the investment that the clubs have made. Anything that exceeds 5 figures will be abusive.

2. Visibility of the parties. Television is the great loudspeaker. It was promised that all matches would take place. It has not been like that, and it is not just about giving them, it is about knowing the schedules in advance, that can attract the audience and with commentators who, beyond knowing about football, know the names, surnames and positions.

3. Level, not fee. The presence of women in any field of sport must be normalized. Also in arbitration. There are great referees and this is demonstrated year after year but it is important that the best are among the elite without making a distinction by sex, and without having to do so by quota. Neither in the masculine, nor in the feminine. And if it is also complemented by the VAR, fantastic.

4. Enhance the show. Professionalization must consequently bring professionalism. And that means, among many other things, that the fields are in optimal condition, that you can play on natural grass. Every detail adds up and watching a game on TV on a neglected playing field does not help, and at a certain point it adulterates the competition to change the field according to the convenience of the home team.

Pre-match interview between F.C. Barcelona and Paris Saint Germain of the Champions League
Pre-match interview between F.C. Barcelona and Paris Saint Germain of the Champions League

5. Criteria in the opinion and more information. More and more people have their opinions. The right to express an opinion is an inalienable right but some people confuse it with the ‘right’ to offend. If you give your opinion, it would be good to know what you are talking about and have more knowledge than a desire to take center stage. It is necessary to favor the growth and the presence of Futfem and criticism is always welcome, but constructive. It is a bit boring to hear: “it is that it does not generate or it is not football nor is it feminine” because it is not fair, nor does it contribute anything. 26 million women play soccer in more than 180 countries. (FACT).

6. Cooperation between estates. The unions, the ACFF, UGT, and other levels that are part and should be key in the evolution of futfem should prioritize the growth of the competition and of the players and forget about the particular wars that only remain. The agreement, due to how the process, the negotiation and the signature have been, is an example. They had to go on strike, in case someone was not aware of it.

7. Professionalization of the model. La Primera Iberdrola, despite the fact that it has cost a lot, is finally going to become professional. It is just as important that it be professionalized, as well as that it is done with the environment, the clubs that are present in the League, that the conditions are adjusted to what professionalization means. And this covers the following areas: sports, legal, financial, institutional, media and commercial. A headline is not enough because, although it looks very good, the important thing is the body of the text.

8. Measures and protocols to face the pandemic. It cannot be ignored, Covid 19 is a reality that conditions everything, and consequently women's football. It has given, gives and will surely give the feeling that an effective, safe and consistent plan has been lacking. Improvisation is bad in itself, at this time even more so. Improve the protocol, adapt it to reality, and do not adulterate the competition. And that also happens and will go through the responsibility of the protagonists.

Match without an audience due to the covid pandemic between FC Barcelona and Sevilla FC
Match without an audience due to the covid pandemic between FC Barcelona and Sevilla FC

9. Planning of calendars. The calendars of all the competitions are decided with little foresight, in some cases on the fly and that also reduces potential interest from brands, attention from spectators, public attendance, media mobilization. The start of the competitions would be good to know in advance.

10. Elevation of the competition. Raising it means looking at what for example they are doing in England. Having a platform to watch the games, take care of communication, online & offline, enhance the image of the players, associate with brands, because this means that later media like Sky have interest and continue to raise. It is a circuit to develop the product. Progression> perfection.

11. Respect rights and fulfill responsibilities. There are still too many cases where there is no respect for contracts, agreements, conventions, rights, the opinions of the protagonists, etc. And this transcends beyond women's football, in sport in general. Can not be. That said, all “power” comes with a responsibility and that is where athletes should try to continue to be an example on and off the field with their behavior and attitude.

12. Take care of talent. I insist on training rights. As they only apply in Spain and between teams that play in Spain, it makes players who terminate a contract with high training rights impossible to assume have to go abroad. If you want to take care of talent, promote competition and have the best level in the First Iberdrola, it also goes through that care and the generation of competition and competitiveness. The way it is regulated now, it hurts the players (the sub-23s) eg; Ona Batlle, and even to many clubs.

Ona Batlle, introduced as a Manchester United player
Ona Batlle, introduced as a Manchester United player

13. Choral engagement. One step ahead of everyone. Players, coaches, clubs, federation, unions, brands, the media. If all the stakeholders add up, continue to contribute and take a step forward, along with what the players are taking with their football prowess, such as those of the lower categories of the national team, futfem will continue to grow.

14. Leadership of the protagonists. To think about what I can do for the feminine and not the feminine for me. And that's what agencies enter into. Forgetting to use it, get on the boat and want to be the inventor of the Futfem. Add with responsibility, honesty and integrity. The players are the ones who must fight the most to make the feminine grow and sometimes they have to rebel, take a good look at what is accepted or what is rejected, and raise their voices. You cannot change what you refuse to confront.

15. Have references. How positive it is to have players who are references for the little ones. They grew up without references, and now they have become the idols of those who already grow up with real dreams. To believe is to create and the “older ones” are the ones who must create so that the “little ones” continue to believe.

Aitana Bonmatí and Carme Nieto commemorate 50 years of women's Barça
Aitana Bonmatí and Carme Nieto commemorate 50 years of women's Barça

16. Invest in the base. Continue promoting educational football. Every year there are more licenses, better training and trainers, more presence of the methodology, resources to train, and more trained professionals at the head of the women's teams. Investment, method and coordination and to make good that of: what is sown is reaped.

17. Aim for the Highest. The lower categories of the Spanish team have already been European and World champions. It is a matter of time and work that they can be in absolute category. The generational change is a reality but along the way, by level and by talent, the demand must be greater to be able to aspire to higher quotas.

18. Value development and avoid comparison. Do you hear how women's football was a few decades ago, or you don't have to go far to see how neglected it was, like many other women's sports in Spain. And what happened before was regrettable, like certain current situations, but beyond all that we judge here, we must value the effort of many people who made, do and will do for the progression.

19. Relativize the awards. There are many distinctions that do not correspond to what happens on the field of play. The last awards (2020) have been another example, including Megan rapinoe acknowledged that his presence at FIFPro World 11 was pointless since he has not played a match in the last 8 months. If the level goes up, let it go up in every way.

Megan Rapinoe celebrates the World Cup
Megan Rapinoe celebrates the World Cup

20. Empower and gamble = invest. Protagonism for women. Not only in those that are on the green, also, in the people who accompany them. Structures with more women, who make decisions, such as coaches, sports directors, managers, presidents, press officers, scouts, physical trainers, retrainers, doctors, analysts, etc.

21. The presence of the fans. That the people, if they want, keep going to the fields, that they continue to support, and that they continue to enjoy the First Iberdrola, the Cup, the Super Cup, the Champions League, the National Team. It has been shown that when the possibility has been given, people have gotten involved, (Wanda, Budapest, San Mamés, Cornellà El Prat …) so we must continue giving the fans what they expect because this “boat” has a place for everyone and any SUMA support.

Gemma Gili takes a selfie with followers, during her time at F.C. Barcelona
Gemma Gili takes a selfie with followers, during her time at F.C. Barcelona

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