"Football is a men's game". This is a usual slogan, not only in Spain, but Spain could not be less in this either. Besides, it is important to look at the recent Spanish history to know that women had to fight (still they do) to find their place in society. The old official machismo of the fascist regime of Franco disappeared with democracy, but as it always happens the social development takes more time to adapt to new times, it requires the mental adaption of men and also women, who were used to their old rules of the old society. Football could not be different. The game indeed was a game of men and the presence of women in the stadiums was an anecdote. Out of the stadiums, not only football, but the physical activity in general was denied to women. Democracy changed the social structures, making no difference between men and women, but changing a law takes a short time, while changing the minds of society takes more time.
As a consequence of equal rights, the Spanish women have been gaining spaces in society, at home, at school, at the work places and also in sport. It has not been easy and there is a way to walk yet, but watching things with some perspective, the change in the last 30 years has been huge. Football could not be different. Back in 1981, the Real Federación Española de Fúbtol (RFEF) created the first women competitions, but it was not until the 1988-1989 season when the federation set the first stable structures with the creation of the Liga and Copa de la Reina tournaments. Back then, the top division only had nine clubs. These women clubs were independent from the well-known professional clubs, except the cases of RCD Espanyol and FC Barcelona, who had their own women section.
During all these years, women football was a very minority sport without any kind of impact. But in the year 2001, the women football clubs decided to give a new impulse to the league with the creation of the Superliga. As a consequence of it, some professional clubs decided to make a clear bet for women football. FC Barcelona, despite they had been relegated to lower divisions, and RCD Espanyol did not renounce to their section and other clubs joined in this growing interest. In the year 1998, Levante UD absorbed a Vicente Valencia CF Femenino, after Valencia CF rejected the offer. Rayo Vallecano created their women section in the year 2000 and Atlético Madrid did the same from the ashes of a disappeared club in the year 2001, although starting from lower divisions. Athletic Club reached an agreement with Leioa EFT to make this women club part of the Athletic Club structure in the year 2002. Back then, the women licenses was 10,000.
|Athletic celebrating their first title in San Mamés|
Two years ago, the RFEF decided to give a new impulse to the tournament, sending invitations to all the professional clubs to participate in the top division without starting from the lower divisions. Some clubs like Las Palmas, Sevilla, Valladolid, Real Jaén or Nàstic Tarragona took their chance, although the idea did not have the expected success due to the economic crisis. Still, nowadays, among the 18 clubs of the Superliga, 10 professional clubs (Athletic, Atlético Madrid, Barcelona, Espanyol, Levante, Málaga, Rayo Vallecano, Real Sociedad, Racing Santander and Valencia CF) support women teams, in or out of their structure, which definitely has helped to reach the 17,000 licenses last year, an important growth in one decade.
|FC Barcelona celebrate the 2011 Copa de la Reina title|
In one way or another, there is a niche of growing interest and I believe it is a matter of time that women football reach professionalism. It is also a matter of time that the public TV realize that there is an interest in this sport. The interest of the traditional professional clubs carried with them the interest of the usual men football fans to women football, because the support on the colors do not know about sex, as the chanting fights in the last Copa de la Reina final, played by FC Barcelona and RCD Espanyol showed. Among the top clubs of Spain, only Real Madrid did not join the party. Ramón Calderón reached a pre-agreement with a club of Madrid (Pozuelo), but Florentino Pérez did not show the same interest, sadly for everyone.
|Rayo Vallecano, Liga winners 2011|