MADRID (AP) — The start of Spain’s new professional women’s league has been called off after referees refused to work until their demands for better wages and work conditions are met.
The season was scheduled to kick off on Saturday, but the league issued a statement saying that it was impossible to hold the games after the referee crews did not show up.
Spain’s female soccer referees announced a strike on Thursday. The referees and referee assistants, which are all women for the women’s league, say that while the new professional league has improved conditions for players it has not addressed their concerns.
This will be the first season of a fully professional women’s league in Spain, after its players campaigned for years for better working conditions and pay.
Beatriz Álvarez, the president of the new women’s league, has put the blame on the Spanish soccer federation and government officials in charge of sports policy.
“The Spanish soccer federation has from the very start tried to boycott the professional women’s league and the Higher Sports Council has allowed it to do so,” Álvarez said.
The referees complain that they only make 320 euros ($322) and assistants 160 euros ($161) per game.
Barcelona, the 2021 Champions League winner, has won the Spanish league for the past three seasons.
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