Amazing, disconcerting, worrying. Call it what you want, but the case is clear. The Royal Spanish Football Federation prioritises money above human rights. While the Spanish women footballers went on strike this weekend, the RFEF announced a three year deal to play the revamped Spain Super Cup in Saudia Arabia. We are talking about the conservative Muslim Kingdom of Salamán bin Abdulaziz, who not only flies the flag for piracy, but imposes heavy restrictions on women attending football matches.
In response to the deal, the Spanish state television RTVE have taken the unanimous decision not to broadcast the upcoming event in January 2020. Some reliable sources suspect that the deal in question has reached exhorbitant amounts ranging between thirty-five to forty million euros a year. And yet, it seems imposible for the RFEF to reach an agreement to pay the minimum salaries that women footballers are striking for.
On the other hand, Rubiales claims that the RFEF have made the right move. The money, he promises, will be put to good use. According to his fine words, the idea behind the deal is to use football as a tool for social changes. But what social changes does he have in mind? Should his charitable words not be resounding at home in Spain where female footballers are starving for decent salaries?
Having pointed that out, when we read the clauses of the agreement, it is obvious why the RFEF say they made the right decision. The competing teams will be staying in seven star luxury hotels and the entire clubs, plus families, will be flown business class to Saudi Arabia . Not to mention that the finalists will pocket ten million euros, while the semifinalists will return home with a meagre nine million euros! And still there is no money available to improve female footballers’ salaries in the home country.
Yet, there is room for optimism. Not only is the deal facing scrutiny from Spain’s watchdog, Comisión Nacional de los Mercados y la Competencia, but also the Liga President, Javier Tebas, has expressed different views on the issue. He claims that the agreement will only result in world damage to Spanish soccer and tarnishing its top-flight club competition.
Alas, it sadly seems that the RFEF are shortsighted and blinded by Saudi Arabia’s opulence.
Onky time will tell if the Spanish football federation will respect their promises and use this new vast income for amateur and female football. Meanwhile, why no agreement has been made with the women footballers on strike remains a mystery.