Women's football faces a new era. As of June 15, the highest category will become professional to become the fourth professional league in Spain, along with the Men's Soccer First Division, the Men's Second Division and the ACB Basketball League. The question is: what panorama are we going to find from now on? To resolve all doubts, Visa and Mundo Deportivo have organized a virtual conference by experts in this field.

Natalia Flores placeholder image, Director of the CSD Commission for Women and Sports, Pedro Malabia, Director of Women's Soccer of the League, Jackie Willcox, Marketing Director of Southern Europe at Visa, Maria Tato, Director of Women's Soccer of the RFEF, and Alexia Putellas, Captain of the Spanish team and Barça, they provide the essential keys to understand this new stage.

“Above all, we have to be careful and with a lot of collaboration between all the entities that are part of this project.” The phrase is from Natalia Flores placeholder image as spokesperson for the CSD, the entity that will be in charge of supervising and protecting the new professional women's soccer league, which is going to be a giant step forward for this sport.

Natalia Flores, from the CSD
Natalia Flores, from the CSD

“It is a case of justice, which is going to end up defining this growth of women's football. It is a very important step for women's football in Spain and for sport in general ”, he says. Pedro Malabia. For its part, Jackie Willcox assures that “this is great news for women's football. From Visa, with our sponsorships, precisely what we seek is to achieve this equality in football in terms of visibility and empowerment of the players ”. The player Alexia putellas points out that “it has been highly anticipated news from everyone. I hope that a before and after will be marked and that we will have the best league in the world ”.

Pedro Malabia, from the League
Pedro Malabia, from the League

Improve wages

On the part of the Spanish Federation, Maria Tato recalls that “we consider it essential to improve the salary conditions of the players and the playing conditions. We have seen several fields with artificial grass and we cannot allow it, especially due to the risk of injury ”.

On the inequalities that still exist between the clubs with the most resources and budgets and the most ‘humble’, Natalia Flores placeholder image points out that “there are clubs like Real Madrid, Barça or Raise that have a much larger budget than others, but we must try to ensure that more modest clubs that have been promoting women's football for many years are not left behind. A professional structure is needed and we are going to achieve it with this new League ”.

María Tato, from the RFEF
María Tato, from the RFEF

“Inequalities occur in all competitions. In football, not everything is money, there is also good sports planning and optimal performance, which are what make the difference ”, he points out. Pedro Malabia on the differences between 'big' and 'small' in the Women's League.

“The differences exist in men's and women's soccer. The important thing now is that the economy of women is closer to that of men and a sponsorship with an important brand means working in this line through more coverage by the media and more visibility of this sporting discipline ”, he points out Jackie Willcox.

Maria Tato He maintains that there are reference clubs such as Real Madrid or Barça, which “are very attractive, very powerful brands and all of this results in benefits. It is true that this difference can diminish the attractiveness of the competition. For this reason it is necessary to help homogenize and ensure that independent clubs are not left out and have the same capacity as clubs that have a male section behind them ”.

Jackie Willcox from VISA
Jackie Willcox from VISA

Record audiences

The heyday of women's football is an overwhelming reality that highlights that this sport has come to stay and to establish itself with authority in the panorama of major sporting events. We have seen audiences and impact at the level of the Formula One Grand Prix or the Euroleague basketball. “It is clear that we are not facing any passing fad. That girls can have references such as Alexia, Amanda or Jenni It is something that they did not have, but it is nothing given away, they have all earned it ”, he explains. Natalia Flores placeholder image.

Jackie Willcox the second in that “the audience record has been broken, with more than a million spectators in the women's UEFA final. Without a doubt, the players are making history and opening or paving the way for future generations. Therefore, for us, as a brand, it is essential to support them. “

Alexia remembers How, from her role as a Barça footballer who has gone from being a perfect stranger to dragging hundreds of thousands of followers, she has undergone this radical transformation: “Three years ago there were hardly any fans coming to the Miniestadi and now when they get tickets to Johan Cruyff Stadium they sell out in a matter of hours. In the end, it is a matter of giving the viewer facilities in terms of schedules and information and it is showing that this is increasing ”.

María Tato insists on the need for future generations to have references to continue growing because “the girls who have, for example, the poster of the Barça players in their room, later want to play football like them. Before it didn't happen, before soccer was “a man's thing” and girls practiced basketball or gymnastics, but now it doesn't. And it is thanks to them ”.

Alexia Putellas, in an action of the Iberdrola league match between FC Barcelona and Madrid CFC
Alexia Putellas, in an action of the Iberdrola league match between FC Barcelona and Madrid CFC

A promising future

“The future happens because there are more and more girls playing this sport. When I see the level of the Ciutat Esportiva, I can't believe it ”, he says. Alexia, who has been able to experience in the first person the fact of training almost without resources (“some father of a partner trained us”) to exercise with top-level trainers.

Jackie Willcox it states that “there has never been such an important moment for women footballers. All of us, including the Government, the Federations and large companies, must continue to demonstrate our commitment to promoting this sport ”and he adds that“ we at Visa are very proud of what we have achieved so far but we have to get to the point of that it is normal to turn on the television at night and watch a women's soccer match, that boys and not just girls have to Alexia as a point of reference and that people do not think about women's football but think only about football ”.

The idea of ​​not distinguishing between men's and women's soccer and of treating this sport simply as soccer, with its Men's League and its Women's League, is another of the pending issues for all levels of this sport and the way forward to achieve a full normalization.

“The ultimate goal is to achieve normalization, for a boy to have a woman as a reference and for a girl to have a man or a woman. It is necessary to finish without seeing the genre but only the quality of the player or the coach ”, he points out. Alexia.

The professional future after football

It should be noted that Visa launched the program ‘The Second Half’At the beginning of the year in the United Kingdom, which focuses on showing female footballers how they can apply everything they have learned on the pitch to a possible future job, once their sports career ends. Soccer players often have a hard time finding job opportunities.

“It is an idea that has come from the players of the Team Visa. We have players who are great professionals, who show enormous passion in soccer but know that as the time to hang up their boots approaches, it is difficult to find professional opportunities and therefore we decided to help them transfer their skills acquired in soccer to a job opportunity, “he explains Jackie Willcox about this project that has been very well received. “We have started it in the United Kingdom and we are considering exporting it to other countries,” he adds.

By last, Pedro Malabia concludes that women should also be present in men's football: “One of the following challenges is to have coaches, referees and leaders also in men's football. That is why I believe that women's football is a great educational tool to achieve this normalization. It is something inevitable, what we tend to “