Spanish first division women footballers announce strike over improved rights

The football players in the Spanish women's first division have announced they will go on strike indefinitely, starting on Nov. 16, after failed mediation between their union and the clubs.

Players are demanding improved rights, such as a guaranteed minimum €16,000 salary, to be covered in the event of an injury, and a pro-pregnancy program.

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Women's Football Clubs (ACFF) and the players' union (AFE) were unable to reach an agreement on a collective agreement after 13 months of negotiations were unsuccessful, and mediation on Monday failed.

An AFE statement said: "The conciliation act concluded and no agreement has been reached with the Association of Women's Football Clubs, hence, the indefinite strike for first division games will go ahead and will start on the weekend of Nov. 16-17."

Players representing the 16 clubs of the Primera Iberdrola, Spain's top division, met last week and voted, with 93 percent in support of a strike going ahead.

Negotiations between the union and the clubs are far apart when it comes to discussing a minimum salary.

However, the biggest stumbling block is whether to consider players to be employed on a part-time basis, as clubs want, and not on a full-time capacity.

"Unfortunately, in the the conciliation act, the clubs had no interest in unblocking this situation and on the contrary, they have discussed issues that had nothing to do with the aim of this meeting," the statement continued.

"The players that have called the strike are defending their workers' rights due to the non-existence, in the XXI century, of a collective agreement, even though there is an Equality Law in this country since 2007. These sportswomen are defending the present rights and especially, the future rights, thus committing to the new generations of footballers."

Ruben Alcaine, spokesman for the women's first division teams, claims what the players requested cannot be fulfilled by the majority of clubs.

"There are many clubs that cannot comply with the players' demands," he told reporters. "The numbers that they are demanding as of today we don't see them viable. We cannot have a competition only accessible to seven or eight clubs."