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Spanish women’s league players call strike over pay

Players from Spain’s women’s top flight, Liga F, have called a strike for the first two weeks of the season over pay and conditions, said players’ union AFE on Friday.

“The call for this strike is a result of the impasse in the ‘Convenio Colectivo (Collective Bargaining Agreement)’ negotiations,” said the AFE in a statement, the largest of several unions negotiating together on behalf of the players.

“The aim is to make progress in these negotiations, to achieve fair and dignified treatment for women footballers, (and) to address and reduce the existing pay gap.”

One of the key issues is agreeing over a minimum wage for players.

Negotiations began a year ago, when Liga F was professionalised.

The first round of fixtures is due to take place between September 8-10, while the second round is September 15-17.

Last season a refereeing strike disrupted the first week of Liga F matches.

Eventually the league agreed to pay referees higher match fees, while the Spanish government said they would contribute to a refereeing retirement fund.

Spanish women’s football has been in the spotlight after La Roja won the World Cup in August, but the victory was tainted by an incident involving federation chief Luis Rubiales at the medal ceremony after the game.

Rubiales, 46, sparked worldwide outrage when he forcibly kissed Spain midfielder Jenni Hermoso on the lips.

The federation chief provoked further upset with a defiant speech in which he refused to resign despite mounting pressure and instead railed against “false feminism”.

Rubiales insisted his kiss was consensual, but Hermoso said it was not and she felt like the “victim of an assault”.

World football governing body FIFA provisionally suspended Rubiales for 90 days while they study disciplinary action and the Spanish government are seeking to impose their own sanction.

Currently 81 Spain players are striking against the women’s national team, until the leadership of the federation changes.

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