Spain’s new professional women’s league did not kick off as planned Saturday, with opening matches postponed due to a referee strike.
The league’s referees announced their strike Thursday, refusing to take the pitch until their demands for better working conditions are met. Officiating crews are asking for improved wages, stating that the €320 ($322) referees and the €160 ($161) assistants make per game is not efficient.
“We referees want to provide the best possible service to football, and this necessarily involves obtaining working conditions close to those of the men’s first division,” the referees said in a statement.
This year marks the first season of a fully professional Spanish women’s league, with players long fighting for enhanced working conditions and fair competition.
The president of Spain’s women’s league, Beatriz Álvarez, has pointed the finger at the Spanish soccer federation, blaming government officials for the referee strike.
“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.
Barcelona is the reigning Spanish league champions, taking home the title the last three seasons.